Lucas and Denise Matheus are the abandoned children of Antoney and Carla, living adrift on a narrowboat on the Grand Union Canal. Desperate to find his place in the world, Lucas embarks on a quest to uncover his parents’ legacy. Antoney was the adored, charismatic leader of the Midnight Ballet, a forgotten 1960s dance troupe, and Carla his leading lady.
During his search Lucas comes into contact with people who were drawn towards Antoney’s bright and dangerous star, learning of his early inspiration as a boy in Jamaica, his struggles to keep his troupe together, his passionate and tumultuous relationship with Carla, and the events that led to his final disappearance. In the process Lucas learns some important lessons of his own.
Reviews of The Wonder
‘Fizzing, sexy...incredibly entertaining...the most dazzling depiction of the world of dance since Ballet Shoes’
‘The novel is fuelled by the mystery at its heart, and by felicitous description...Most striking is the delicacy and power with which Evans depicts emotional disturbance’
Maya Jaggi, Guardian
‘Evans interweaves the strands of her three-generation narrative with an exhilarating sense of place and period. Her evocations of Fifties Jamaica and Notting Hill in the Sixties and half a century later are vividly realised... it leads the reader into a glittering imaginative realm’
‘Diana Evans brings a style and technique to The Wonder that enhance the reader's immediate pleasure, and it is sustained throughout by her flair for the colourful phrase, for attention to detail....The story is complex, clever, seamlessly achieved, its many currents blending in harmony, sometimes in conflict, to recreate that sense of randomness and accident that resemble the truth of life in the chancy present....The author's passion burns on the page, along with an almost tactile relish of the act of writing itself’
‘This follow-up to Evans's acclaimed debut, 26a, is also a serious work of art, with sentences like ribbons of silk winding around a skeleton of haunting imagery...Evans was born to write this novel...The Wonder's most central achievement is to explore what art means in human life. Through dance Evans is meditating on her own craft as a writer and on creativity as a whole, seen as self-realisation, as the naked "wonder", but also as something which can falter and destroy you. This second novel, both powerful and delicate...proves that Evans has what she calls "the watch-me, the grace note" that marks a true artist’
Maggie Gee, Independent
‘Her prose is air-bound at times – an exhilarating celebration of rhythm, sway and leap, as she describes an artist at the height of his power and grace. Equally bedazzling is the alluring fairytale quality of her story, describing a lost boy, a missing father and a world peopled with characters from dance myth and legend...Hauntingly good’
‘Quite the most stunning second novel from this widely regarded and Orange New Writers winner....It's laced with beauty, politics and life lessons. Quite remarkable’
‘Evans captures the sweeps, leaps and beats of a dancer at the height of his inventiveness....The Wonder sparkles with mood, music and the sway of street life’
‘Evans knows how to evoke complex choreography simply – a task that would leave a lesser writer in a tangle....More important still, it is a book about wondrousness: how people can lift themselves into gravity-defying leaps, of both body and soul, becoming “more than yourself” through dance.... The Wonder embraces its theme with great heart. It’s hard not to be seduced by its talented, difficult hero.’