A World of Other People rightfully co-won the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Fiction in 2014, and is a literary fiction novel set in 1941 during the Blitz. This novel traces the love affair of Jim, an Australian lot in Bomber Command, and Iris, a forthright Englishwoman finding her voice as a writer. The two struggle to build their future together amidst secrets and malign coincidence, and their lives are plagued by the constant presence of society’s disapproval.
Steven Carroll is a wonderful writer, weaving beautiful descriptive prose alongside realistic, haunting dialogue and characterisation. A World of Other People documents Jim and Iris over many years, and through circumstance, coincidence and life, the two weave in and out of each other’s lives over the years. In most cases, they disappear from each other’s lives not out of choice, but out of necessity or pure circumstance.
Steven Carroll is able to describe their lives with such detailed, imaginative prose, that this story, which really only possesses enough of a plot to be a novella at most, has become an illustrious novel filled with multi-dimensional characterisation and class act writing. The reader becomes immersed in Iris and Jim’s love story, both doubting their future together, and fighting for it.
There aren’t many sub plots in this book that accompany Jim and Iris’ storyline, but since Jim and Iris are separate for most of their lives, Steven Carroll uses those times in the story to follow each of their storylines and show the reader the two sides to the couple. Steven then brings them together for short periods of time to emphasise both their compatibility and their intense need for each other during that time in their lives.
The pace is extremely slow and the plot seems almost non-existent, but by exploring this young couple and their time (or lack there of) spent together, Carroll pulls on heartstrings and produces a beautifully written but heartbreaking novel.
My Score: 7/10