Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

(Non-) wintery books

Yes, Helen, I think you're spot-on with the ending of Amy Tan - definitely too happy an ending after all that's gone before (even if a relief that it's not too bleak). A carefully-crafted ending with more of a sense of a redemptive finish, hard-won after suffering, would have been my ideal (eg Girl with a pearl earring, The Shipping News, We need to talk about Kevin, An Equal Music). Am I alone in thinking it's so often the ending of a book which we have most gripes with? eg Bel Canto or The way I live now? I wonder if it's that authors can get away with it (they don't have to write beyond it, so can afford to be sloppy)? Or is there such pressure to provide happy or dramatic endings that this is where the compromises tend to occur?

Anyroad, onto A Winter Book. I have to admit to being disappointed after The Summer Book. I felt it lacked the child-grandmother relationship which gave, I now realise, the human warmth to a very bleak and harsh island existence in The Summer Book. I thought A Winter Book still had merits, being evocative and informative about the coping methods for living such a life. And also a real shaft of light into how being a world-famous writer makes you public property. The letters from fans/nutters made a very good case for retreating to a remote and desolate island from which one could repel visitors! I also liked the humour - "The Squirrel" was my favourite with its battle of wills and the final triumph of the rodent. But what a place to live, and what isolation to live in, for a squirrel to be so central...