“For the briefest moments, his greatest fear in life was that a butterfly would get caught in the spokes of his bike.”
Sloane Crosley, The Clasp, (2015)
There are a lot of different themes at play in Sloane Crosley’s The Clasp, but I think for me the most compelling was the idea of letting go of the things that are holding you back, especially if they are things you want badly.
The book opens with a wedding. A group of college friends are reunited at the ceremony after drifting apart years before. At the wedding Victor, recently unemployed and increasingly dissatisfied with his life, has a strange conversation with the groom’s mother, sparking an impromptu journey to France in search of a mysterious necklace. His old friends, Kezia and Nathanial follow in his wake to limit the trouble his actions may cause.
Unrequited emotions play an important role in this novel, as do unmet expectations. Victor loves Kezia, Kezia is infatuated with Nathaniel, Nathaniel obsesses over Bean and it doesn’t seem to get them anywhere. Nathaniel wants to write a hit TV show, Victor wants a well-paid job and Kezia craves the perks her old job used to offer. These feelings and desires have put their lives on hold since graduating college. It’s when they put themaside that they seem the happiest, particularly Victor in the sentence quoted above.
I like how jewellery has a constant presence in the narrative, existing in different ways throughout the book. Kezia is the assistant to a jewellery designer whose newest design keeps falling apart and her attempts to remedy the situation leads her to France in Victor’s wake. Guy de Massapaunt and his short story The Necklace have a recurring role. Victor feels an affinity to the writer as he travels through France, reading his biography. His journey to find the mysterious necklace is inspired by Johanna (the groom’s mother) who shows Victor her jewellery collection and tells him the story of her aunt’s emotional relationship to the jewellery she owned.
Crosley has a wit that can be subtly weaved into the narrative and just as easily hit you in the face. It was easy to read. Well-placed discoveries and plot twists made me digest three or four chapters when I had only intended to read one. My only real issue was that although it was mentioned several times how far apart they had all grown there didn’t really seem to be any tension between the group, and for people who had drifted apart they seemed to be in touch more than you would expect. I also found it a little odd that Kezia would be concerned enough to cross the atlantic to stop Victor doing something stupid, only to spend three days on a road trip through the French countryside.
My favourite chapters were Victor’s flashbacks to college, and I think that if there had been more of a discourse between the past and the present and a more permanent sense of separation then their reunion would have had more impact. It would have been interesting to see them try to reconnect after that distance had been created.
Overall it was an amusing and enjoyable read.