As an avid reader and lover of sport, I've always found sport fiction books to be underwhelming. I think it's because it's extremely difficult to create and mirror the emotional extremes that we as fans go through every game.
I'm not sure if it's because Leamon is an excellent writer, or if it's because he spent time with the England cricket team as an analyst, but this book bucks the trend for sport fiction books that don't feel remotely relatable, it's a refreshing and unique insight into the modern day test cricketer.
With the ASHES on the line, this book traverses the final test as England try to see out a game for victory, and let me tell you...you will live every single ball. It takes you inside the dynamics of a dressing room and it's told so well you have to remind yourself that this is indeed fiction.
With the main character being a veteran thrust into the captaincy following an injury, he must keep his nerve and his dressing room together as pressure is ramped up on his sporting career but also his personal life.
You're introduced to a myriad of characters all with distinguishable personalities and traits, and if you've ever played team sports the scanarios will be very familiar.
I loved this book because while it is about cricket and the tension is very real, there are bigger themes and questions raised. Looking at the importance of sport in relation to life and this all comes to a head over the final 15-20 gripping pages. Your perspective as a reader almost changes in direct accordance with the characters.
The Test is a superb read. I'd highly recommend it as a nice change of pace from the non-fiction autobiographical scene that is prevalent in sport. It's refreshing, and relatable. It will make you pine for a summer day at Lord's, living and breathing every single delivery, every cover shot, every forward defensive, every bouncer and every wicket.