Post Script- Work Like Any Other – Virginia Reeves

Beautifully written, elegant, poignant…heartbreaking.

Work Like Any Other  

Work Like Any Other

Virginia Reeves

Simon & Schuster


ISBN: 9781471152221



Placing itself perfectly alongside acclaimed work by Philipp Meyer, Jane Smiley and J M Coetzee, this debut novel charts the story of Roscoe T Martin in rural Alabama in the 1920s. Roscoe has set his sights on a new type of power spreading at the start of the 20th century: electricity.


It becomes his training, his life’s work. But when his wife Marie inherits her father’s failing farm, Roscoe has to give it up, with great cost to his pride and sense of self, his marriage and his family. Realising that he might lose them all, he uses his skills as an electrician to siphon energy from the state, ushering in a period of bounty and happiness on a farm recently falling to ruin. Even the love of Marie and their son seems back within Roscoe’s grasp. Then everything changes.


A young man is electrocuted on their land. Roscoe is arrested for manslaughter and – no longer an electrician or even a farmer – he must now carve out a place in a violent new world.



My View:

Beautifully written, elegant, poignant…heartbreaking.


I think what I loved most about this read was the quietness, the stillness. Despite so much tension, aggravation, violence and anger seeping through the pages of this novel, this was a particularly quiet and sensitive read, perhaps the considered responses by the protagonist contributed to the restful way I embraced this narrative; despite the harshness of the conditions, the punishment being served and the crime committed, Roscoe T Martin remains respected, valued and at ease with himself. His wife however is the opposite – full of bile and bitterness despite her freedoms, she is emotionally stunted and withered. Her identity is so closely tied up to her perception of what it is to be female (family/mother) that she is unable to love herself or anyone else – what a sad character. I disliked her immensely. The two main characters are so opposite – one open, one closed, on likable, one not – they are very well constructed.


This is a poignant exploration of relationships, power over, the importance of meaningful work in our lives, moral dilemmas, racism, redemption and forgiveness. A harsh penal system is pared back and dissected – the parts abhorrent and clearly showing the futility of the sentencing and worthless attempts at rehabilitation. The narrative is a classic tragedy; so much unfairness, ugliness and resentment in a small world. Good intentions have tragic outcomes, life choices effect all for many many years. Education is a panacea for everything.


A moving and thought provoking read.




4 thoughts on “Post Script- Work Like Any Other – Virginia Reeves

  1. This does sound powerful, Carol. And it takes place at such a pivotal time for society, too. As you say, a tragedy because of the disastrous outcomes from such good intentions…

  2. Pingback: Best Contemporary Reads/Literary Reads of 2016 – Reading, Writing and Riesling

  3. Pingback: Best Contemporary Reads/Literary Reads of 2016 – Reading, Writing and Riesling

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