Without much time to browse when I popped in the other day, I zoomed in on the novels on a shelf-end display. A couple looked interesting, but one’s title and blurb was intriguing enough to make it my February quick-pick.
‘The Book Club’ by Marjolijn Februari (I’ve just realised how apt a surname that is! Anyhoo...) should be a book I’d love, with its plot of a book club not reading a controversial bestseller written by a local writer, because it threatens to expose their dark secret... Why, what, how dangerous is it, and all other questions beg to be answered...
Except that the secret wasn’t all that shocking, to me, by the time I’d got to it (rather a while into the narrative). Neither did I care about the (supposed) main character, because the third-person narrative concentrates on many other characters before her. In fact, I couldn’t get a handle on any of the characters, though I tried (really, I did: I got to page 63 of 308 before giving up and skim-reading the rest, which is good for me! Usually with a not-so-good-book, I’d give up earlier and just read the end – which Zoe tells me off about all the time!).
For me, the way the book is written is a stumbling block I can’t get over. I’m not sure whether this is anything to do with it being a translation (and I mean no offence to people speaking other languages; in fact, I admire them, being boringly mono-lingual myself!) of a Dutch novel, in the sense of the syntax, vocabulary and tone put across by the English words chosen. Perhaps it’s simply that the narrative and so the story feels distant and impersonal, as if I’m standing far, far away, looking down on shadows of people, not sitting in a room with real people before me. I’ve just had a nosy on Amazon, and the two reviews there say the same, though one continues more favourably. My view is mine, and I do not mean to colour or taint yours: if you think this novel sounds interesting, pop down to the library and give it a go! (I’ll be returning it tomorrow...)
And this is the beauty of a library full of books: when one story doesn’t satisfy, you just pull another one down from the shelf!
The one I chose next is, as a nod to my pledge, another borrowed book, though it’s from Zoe and not the library. ‘The Paris Wife’ by Paula McLain is a fictional account of Hadley and her husband, the writer Ernest Hemingway, and their tempestuous time in 1920s Paris. The blurb promises flirtation, love and loss, as well as literary discussion. Right up my street, then!
Zoe picked it up because of the Paris connection chiming with our recent trip to the very same chic city (see my November and December posts in the archive on the right for my take on Paris), and she thought I’d like it for the same reason. Beginning it with a cup of tea in bed this morning (dunked Hob Nobs are obligatory, of course!), I’m currently on Chapter 5 and, as Zoe rightly predicted (!), I’m loving it. Zoe warned me that she found it a little slow in plot development, so I’m prepared for this – but I’ve already noted down three passages that I love, ready to be treasured in my Reading Journal when I’ve finished the book. Somehow, I think there will be more...
I wonder what books you’ve borrowed recently, and what you thought of them? Please feel free to share in the comments section!