Saturday, 28 August 2010
This novel is about an author in Victorian England, who is loosely based on Charles Dickens, and is written from the point of view of his estranged wife (called Dorothea in the novel). I am at a loss as to why this book was longlisted for the Booker Prize as it was, frankly, pretty light reading and is more suited to a Richard & Judy.
It also surprised me that this was written by a woman as Dorothea’s narrative is pretty unrealistic. Dorothea was usurped by her younger sister , forced to separate from her husband and refused access to her children whilst her sister continued to live in the matrimonial home. Instead of behaving like a normal woman and doing the nineteenth century equivalent of maxing out his credit card, keying her sister’s car and selling the story to Hello, Dorothea is perfectly understanding and forgiving throughout the separation and her 10 year isolation from her family. Maybe that was likely back in the day, before the Spice Girls and Girl Power, but it is pretty hard to swallow to be honest. There is no fury like a woman scorned and all that.
Leaving that aside, the historical context was quite interesting and it is entertaining. Good for a holiday read but the writing is pretty average so don’t pick this for an A level English critique.
Having said all that, I feel obliged to warn my two readers that I am not sure they would like it. It isn’t really a boys book (sorry Andy) and it requires quite a lot of concentration (no offense Mum). So whilst I really enjoyed it I am not actually sure who else would.
Despite the style irritations I quite liked this novel, which is about a young man who witnesses a murder and struggles with his conscience. He has a few affairs along the way including (possibly) one with his sister. Somehow this book is not as pretentious as that description makes it sound, possibly because the characters are actually quite well written.
There are websites where you can input information, such as your name, a city and the name of your boyfriend, and the website outputs a short story for you (admittedly usually a dirty story). There must be one for novels about happy middle class families whose lives are turned upside down, and then they build it up again. The variable of course being what turns their life upside down. In this case, the father’s money laundering activities. Exciting stuff.
So, a very formulaic story with pretty average writing and dialogue and very two dimensional characters. It is light hearted so a bit of escapism but not recommended for boys.
Down graded half a star because HMS Victory is docked at Portsmouth not Plymouth. How hard is that to check?
The narrative follows the history of a Cretan family, two members of which suffered from leprosy and were exiled to Spinalonga which was a leper colony until 1957. I thought the book was poorly researched. It is very irritating to be smugly (and perpetually) informed that the popular misconceptions about leprosy are incorrect without being given any information on the disease whatsoever. I appreciate that I should not be looking for education in a chick lit trashy novel but I do expect at least a half hearted attempt at some background research. A google search would have done.
This book is definitely overrated. I suspect that the high sales can be traced back to our hotel’s gift shop, which stocked thousands of copies of this book and a few bottles of suntan lotion.
Monday, 9 August 2010
Basically, a girl turns into glass whilst falling in love with a clearly mentally ill photographer who tries to get her help from a man who looks after a herd of flying cows. Like I said, completely ridiculous.
Nevertheless, it is fairly easy to read and pretty quick and a lot better than the other completely ridiculous novel of recent times - the one which is literally about a woman married to a man who travels through time. There is no punchline.
In summary, don't rush out to buy it but you can't go too far wrong with this as a beach read or if you are stuck in an airport and have to choose between this and The Iliad. In Greek. This will be more entertaining (unless you read Greek).
Thursday, 5 August 2010
This is a very dull book. It is very hard to build up any sort of connection with the characters or to care enough to concentrate on the fairly disjointed plot. I think the story is about Pakistani military cadets and middle eastern politics. But I couldn't be sure as this book is not as interesting as my day dreams about being a gangster so I was really focusing on them rather than the story.
I gave this an extra half star because it is not as offensive as The Still Point (the worst book in the world), but seriously - don't bother.
Sunday, 1 August 2010
The plot is pretty unrealistic but the narrative is very clever and engrossing. Once I got into it I also found the characters likeable and interesting. It is quite funny in places although not as hilarious as it says it is in the reviews quoted on the back.
This is quite a long book but I would definitely recommend it and it is worth putting the time in.