Tollesbury Time Forever by Stuart Ayris – Reviewed by Guy Portman
Simon Anthony, a resident of the picturesque village of Tollesbury, is an avid Beatles fan with a history of mental health issues and a dependence on alcohol. One evening an inebriated Simon staggers out of his local ‘The King’s Head’ and heads off in the direction of Tollesbury Salt Marshes with the intended purpose of bringing his troubled existence to an end.
Instead of meeting his demise in the marshes however, Simon finds himself thrust into the past, to Tollesbury, in the year 1836, where despite the all too familiar surroundings, he finds himself a stranger. The setting is both atmospheric and believable with a host of interesting and appealing characters. The sentimental and at times nostalgic narrative allows the reader to reflect on the fundamental nature of their own existence.
This is a highly original work; from the main protagonist, Simon, an unlikely hero with an unconventional lifestyle and complex personality to the quotes taken from Beatles songs. The author is successful in evoking both compassion and understanding, as he portrays the complexities of what is labelled mental illness within the context of a vulnerable individual seeking his place in the world, as he attempts to come to grips with the turbulent events that have contributed into moulding him into the man that he is today. Stuart Ayris employs a flawless, flowing prose, which is at times poetic and always compelling.