The fencer L’escrimeur by Ayala R
Source – review copy
I was caught by the description of this book and by the writers bio ,when I was sent email about the book ,plus must admit always been beguiled by Fencing as a sport .Ayala R Finished studying at Stanford in the US ,then moved to the Europe he has lived in six different countries and speaks four languages .He was a competitive fencer and a tango Argentina dancer ,he currently lives in Vienna .
Every time Francis put on his mask ,it stopped being a sport to him and turned into something real :as real as it had been at the time when people used to demand satisfaction after witnessing their honour and pride compromised and thus blood needed to flow in order for offence to be washed away .
From the first match of the championship .
The fencer follows the story of Francis A man at the top of his sport fencing .He is competing in the world championship as the book opens the book unfolds on three levels the first is a progression through the rounds of the championship describing each match how Francis manage to win the moves used and opponent ,the second strand we meet Francis the man outside fencing in the present he is a man who has everything in some ways has nothing .We discover how he got to this point in his life in the third strand of narrative and that is the one of him and his brother growing up an overbearing father the sort that wants his child to be the best at the sport and thwarts his other dreams along the way as he loves playing the piano and would have loved to be a pianist .Add to this Francis has a brother whom like his self fell under his fathers huge desire for a champion in fencing and the honour that would come with that but unlike Francis his brother Germain stayed with the father not like Francis that broke loose but maybe as we see in the present maybe to long .
Francis and his brother had just been children when their father had decided that they were to learn the discipline of fencing .That was also the time when he had a fencing hall built inside the mansion because ,for him ,no fencing club in the region was good enough for his own flesh and blood .
How his journey began along side his brother as his fathers search for them to win “the big one”
I loved the novel Between clay and dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi a novel about wrestling but also tackles similar ground to this book about the struggle to get ahead in a sport but also the fallout from such achievements can bring to the people like Francis involved in the sport .We also encounter father son relationships and sibling relationships ,what we do to make our fathers proud ,but what happens when we feel we fall short of the high bar some fathers can but on their sons .We see also the love and rivalry between brothers which can ultimately drive one to the edge .Then there is the man himself there is often a feel to excel in one area of life or as a person can lead to a loss in another area of a person’s life and Francis is a perfect example of this .Ayala as a former fencer himself he captures the matches through the book so well you feel the adrenalin rush of each round ,the skill ,moves ,tactics and what it feels like to win a fencing match .It made me want to put on a fencing mask and have a go .All set along the background of the cities of Europe .The book has it’s own website here
Do you have a favourite sport linked book ?