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.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Can any mother help me?

Emily says it's my turn to choose, so how about Can any mother help me? by Jenna Bailey. Comes highly recommended by a friend and is 'the true story of friendship through a secret magazine' started in 1935 when a young mother wrote to a magazine asking readers for help. Should be different.

Helen, what did you think of The Sea - I very much enjoyed it, though wasn't expecting to - I only really read it because it was a Booker winner and i've read all of them, and handily found it in a charity shop. Banville is supposed to be 'difficult' but I found it very straightforward - but maybe I missed something?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Watched but weary

Sorry again for the delay in posting, I got rather bogged down in John Banville's The Sea. I enjoyed The Night Watch and found it an intriguing read. I did love her sense of place and can't think of a more evocative portrayal of war-time London than this ( I found her 'Acknowledgements' list fascinating reading as a glimpse of her research into all this, even down to the silk pyjamas!).

There was also some very powerful desciptions: the abortion, Duncan and Fraser's confinement in their cell during the air raid and the scenes of devastation that greeted the ambulance on it's call outs. I also liked the first section; the scene setting and clue dropping. All very tantalising but not really fully utilised as a device. It suggested to me that there was going to be a twist in the end (much like the film 'momento' which does a similar thing) and when it only turned out to be a mere, and rather laborious, unravelling it left me feeling rather flat. I thought she could have easily have left out the whole of the last (1941) section as it didn't really give us any more information than we hadn't already gleaned and left me more frustrated that Duncan's home life wasn't more fully explored (what was it about his family that left he and Viv as such victims?) and Alec as a character was particularly one-dimensional.

There were lots of questions I thought were left unanswered. Why did Viv go back to Reggie after such an experience? I also lost the symbolism of the ring. Had it been given to Kay by Helen originally?

A good read, and I wouldn't mind trying some of her other work, but what's next?