When you open the covers of "Pignut and Nuncle" by Des Dillon you need to suspend reality. Forget what you expect of a novel, based on your experience of everything you have read before, because you are not going to get it! This is something very different and from page one, it’s oddly compelling. Reading the blurb on the back cover will have told you that this is a mash up of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Shakespeare’s King Lear. As a result you might think twice about picking this book up. Don’t: just buy it, jump in and enjoy the wild ride you find within!
To set the scene, Jane Eyre is wandering lost and alone on moorland in a storm. She chances on two men, who claim to be King Lear and his faithful fool. They are out seeking shelter and surprised to see her. Lear immediately jumps to the conclusion that Jane is mad, but the fool has other ideas. Using his powers to transport them all into the play of King Lear, he sets about driving them through it at lightning speed.
A frightened Jane becomes committed to trying to avert the tragedy of Cordelia’s death, but at every turn her attempts fail. Meantime, Cordelia’s character goes rogue and degenerates into the very worst of Shakespeare’s tyrants. Jane, Lear and the fool find themselves in a battle to save themselves, whilst at the same time trying to save Cordelia’s soul.
One of the many things that makes "Pignut and Nuncle" such a fascinating read is its suspension of any kind of formatting or convention. Written in the language of the original works, interjected with modern idioms and even the odd emoji, the dialogue jumps between settings and pulls the reader along with it. Once you settle into the idiosyncrasies of the presentation, there is a lot going on. You certainly have to work to keep up. This reviewer feels it’s definitely worth the effort, but also suspects that Des Dillon’s tale may divide its readers in the way that Marmite divides palates!