Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Long reads
26 February 2007updated 27 Sep 2015 2:56am

Invisible friends

When to Walk Rebecca Gowers Canongate, 230pp, £10.99 ISBN 1841958921

By Kylie Walker

Ramble is a twentysomething eccentric. Lame and partially deaf, she hides from life in a vibrant world of her own making. But when her husband calls her an “autistic vampire” and walks out of their marriage, Ramble is finally forced to confront reality.

Gowers’s debut novel is a mercurial delight, a humorous romp spiked with the unpredictable and the darkly comic. But it is when Gowers ignores the plot and takes the reader intimately inside Ramble’s bewildered consciousness that the story really sparkles. Happily, this occurs regularly, thanks to the first-person narrative. Overexcited, and crammed full of whimsical trivia, knowingly bad jokes and wry observations, Ramble’s mind fascinates and charms.

Ramble is only too aware that, to strangers, she appears a “delinquent and bewildered creature”. For her, the perfect friendship occurs in a book, where stories can be told and received. One cannot help but wonder how autobiographical this novel is. There are strange moments of intimacy when it feels as if she is stretching out a hand of friendship to the reader. These moments give the sense that you are Ramble’s only companion. Gowers’s heartfelt novel is the perfect read for those bored with the current surfeit of cliché-ridden chick lit.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action