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Touching Earth - Rani Manicka

Touching Earth

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

Touching Earth wasn’t quite what I’d expected yet I wasn’t disappointed. I did, however, find certain aspects of it deeply disturbing. But for that, I have only myself to blame.

Author Rani Manicka had warned me – as indeed she does every reader – that I was about to enter “a dreadfully sordid world”. And that, I most certainly did.

For Touching Earth presents us (the reader) with the harsh reality of heroin addiction and prostitution. Anyone contemplating either, would do well to read this beautifully written but shocking tale of….

Nutan and Zeenat, the beautiful Balinese twins whose lives spiral out of control when they exchange an island paradise for the squalor of London.

Ricky Delgado, the young Sicilian who traps victims in his deadly web of decadence and sin.

Elizabeth, the courtesan or, to put it more crudely, ‘the Arab billionaire’s whore’, who guards a secret so terrible that she cannot allow herself to fall in love.

Anis, the artist, who knows his subjects before they know themselves.

And Bruce, an artist of a different kind, whose fate is to fall in love with Elizabeth….

These then, are ‘the players’. What follows is a gripping, no-holds barred account of ‘the games they played’.

Manicka is a storyteller of quite exceptional talent. Although each of the players is introduced in a separate chapter, all are linked by an intricately woven thread, so it’s never at the expense of continuity.

And she spares us nothing of the sordid and degrading world of the drug addict. In fact, the detail is such that I can only assume she researched her subject in person.

Why else, I wonder, would she appear as herself, an author ‘looking for material’ for her second novel. She even goes so far as to make herself responsible for the ultimate fate of one of her players – though isn’t that what authors do all the time?

Manicka also has a clever way with words. For example, as Ricky’s wife leaves Bruce’s salon where her naturally curly hair has been straightened, she suggests Bruce ‘drop in’ on her husband at his restaurant, the Villa Ricci. No coincidence, I’m sure, that in Italian ricci means curls….

Touching Earth is undoubtedly, a dark and, at times, harrowing story. But don’t let this put you off for it’s not without hope. Besides, it is an extremely good read.