Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

This novel follows the student days of a group of Greek scholars in an American university. The five students are considered odd-balls by the other undergraduates and avoided as much as possible. They try and re-create a Grecian ritual which would allow them to experience true freedom from their bodies. The ritual "works" and the students experience an evening of heightened awareness. When they come back to their bodies they realise they have murdered a farmer who bumped into them during their frenzy. The remainder of the book examines the impact of a murder on five intelligent students.

The book is well written and fairly engaging but not particularly amazing. Some of the reactions of the students are so unrealistic that the suspension of disbelief is not very willing. Not bad though.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

This was a recommendation from someone at work and it won a Pulitzer Prize.

It follows the partnership of 2 cousins (Joseph Kavalier and Sammy Clay) in New York. Joe is a refugee from Prague during the Second World War and arrives in Brooklyn to live with his aunt and cousin. From the day Joe arrives, the two cousins start to draw and write comic books. The novel charts their progress from small-time freelancers to the creators of a new comic superhero - the Escapist.

The two cousins grow older and the story then follows their marriages, romances and war time experiences.

Both Joe and Sammy are easy to like so the story definitely keeps your interest. It is a good book, although not one that will stay with you. Worth a read, particularly if you want to know about the history of comics.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Winner of the Booker Prize 2009

This historical fiction novel charts the rise of Thomas Cromwell from a young boy being beaten by his father in Putney to Henry VIII's most trusted advisor. The historical elements of the novel are very interesting particularly the focus on the reformation. However, the fictional narrative is pretty dull and the characters are not properly developed - it is very difficult to relate to them. The book is over 600 pages long which is about 200 - 250 pages too long. The pace of the book is odd - just as it gets so boring it's tempting to give up, it picks up again and revives your interest.

Overall, I enjoyed learning about Thomas Cromwell but would advise reading the Wikipedia entry rather than slogging through this. Although I think I may be fairly alone in this view - whilst I was reading this on the tube 2 separate people (both middle aged men) interrupted me to go on and on about how good they thought it was. Maybe one for Dad...!!