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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

All our worldy goods?

Although this was easy to read and was set in an interesting time/place, I, like Valerie, found it disappointing and unsatisfying. Disappointing because Suite Francaise was so good and I was anticipating more of the same; unsatisfying because by covering the lives of so many for so long she seemed to promise a family saga, but with so few pages, was unable to do justice to her themes or characters. One example would be the casual yet intense meeting on the road of Simone and Roland Burgeres, who, when we next see them, are married. Now there’s a whole novel in that gap and in the many similar gaps in the narration. And she could have written it well. I’m reminded of The Forsyte Saga: similar theme of the generational inheritance of misalliances and misdemeanours but Galsworthy takes 9 novels of this sort of length to tell the tale (brilliantly in my view). Well, that’s if it is meant to be a family saga. What else? An historical review of the early 20 century – if so, nowhere near as emotive and compelling as SF.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All Our Worldly Goods

I feel this book if it were a painting, would be of the French Impressionist style. The story is not bothered by too much intricate detail, but lightly skims along the century to give an impression of the Hardelot family and the life they were leading. There are strong similarities to Suite Francais, but that book covered just a small part of the time scan of this and in greater detail. For that, it was for me, the more satisfying. However, I think that this was a skilfully written book that showed you, once again, the stifling customs and mentality of small town France, (small town anywhere?) and the fleeing of the population before the German advance. The personalities were brought to life well, with all their failings. Even the saintly Agnes did not like her daughter-in-law.

As a family saga, there was insufficient story but plenty of opportunities to flesh is out. Maybe the circumstances at the time prevented this. I could not recommend this book when I can recommend Suite Francais instead.