1001 Books Round-up November 2019
Our winners and losers are…
Another World by Pat Barker – BOTM – Goodreads says “Plagued by nightmarish memories of the trenches where he saw his brother die, Nick’s grandfather Gordie lays dying as Nick struggles to keep the peace in his increasingly fractious home. As Nick’s suburban family loses control over their world, Nick begins to learn his grandfather’s buried secrets and comes to understand the power of old wounds to leak into the present. “ Gordie’s memories are certainly nightmarish and he is definitely dying (well at 101 years old what do you expect) Nick struggles to keep the peace??? Really that wasn’t the book I read.
I really enjoyed the start of this book the new house and what is discovered there certainly racked up the tension as did Gordie’s living nightmares and then suddenly we hit the end of the book and all the tension is gone with no dramatic climax to dispel it all. OK to be fair there is a revelation but it was done with no drama at least for me. Without spoilers I felt the ending let the book down the resolution seemed too neat and tidy and it didn’t bother to explain or explore the supernatural element that had been building throughout the narrative.
3 stars – despite the ending I whizzed through this book and really enjoyed the early parts. Barker does a good job of building the tension even if it did fizzle out.
The Trap – Pilgrimage Part 8 – Yearly
What I did notice that I hadn’t really seen before were sections of what I would class as normal “stream of consciousness” writing.
“When I open my eyes there is a certain amount of light-much less that I felt before I opened them-and things that make, before I see them clearly, an interesting pattern of dark shapes; holding worlds and worlds, all the many lives ahead. And I lie wandering within them, a different person every moment.”
In terms of drama I never actually felt that anything dramatic was going on even the ending fight was a bit pathetic if you ask me
“And a sobbing. Mrs Perrance in serene despair. Without fear.”
Miriam is still being a snob in terms of Americans:
“There was, for her, something in the American voice that robbed its communications of any depth of meaning.”
“Nothing about Americans could be really interesting.”
Did anyone else find the gift of a sculpted finger bizarre? Miriam’s reaction to this felt natural to me:
“What could she give in return for the burden of this gift, so much heavier that its weight in her hands?”
3 Stars – the end is getting so close might as well keep going
Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf – TBR Takedown. What Wiki has to say – “The novel centres, in a very ambiguous way, around the life story of the protagonist Jacob Flanders and is presented almost entirely through the impressions other characters have of Jacob. Thus, although it could be said that the book is primarily a character study and has little in the way of plot or background, the narrative is constructed with a void in place of the central character if, indeed, the novel can be said to have a ‘protagonist’ in conventional terms. Void is definitely the right description.
Motifs of emptiness and absence haunt the novel and establish its elegiac feel. Jacob is described to us, but in such indirect terms that it would seem better to view him as an amalgam of the different perceptions of the characters and narrator. He does not exist as a concrete reality, but rather as a collection of memories and sensations.” Feelings of boredom and sleepiness haunted this reader.
This was a tough book to read as there is not a central character instead we are given various views of Jacob by those who know him, there is also little in terms of plot – time moves forward but in what increments and what are we missing the reader never knows.
I can appreciate that this was a new technique in story telling and for that and the poetic language I would give it 3 stars in terms of readability this was a 2 star book.
“So of course,’ wrote Betty Flanders, pressing her heels rather deeper in the sand, ‘there was nothing for it but to leave.'” Great opening line
“The voice had an extraordinary sadness. Pure from all boy, pure from all passion, going out into the world, solitary, unanswered, breaking against rocks – so it sounded.”
“The Scilly Isles now appeared as if directly pointed at by a golden finger issuing from a cloud” Beautiful
“The stream crept along by the road unseen by any one.” Love it
“But colour returns; runs up the stalks of the grass; blows out into tulips and crocuses; solidly stripes the tree trunks; and fills the gauze of the air and the grasses and pools.” Gotta love spring
3 Stars – a real mixed bag beautiful writing, unusual narrative technique but oh so boring.
Oberland – Pilgrimage Part 9 – Yearly
This volume is almost a standalone addition to the series. The action this time is set in Switzerland and this provides a snowy backdrop for Miriam to show her childish and frivolous side which was fun to see.
“A beggar could perhaps find help in a church more easily than in a post office. Yet the mere atmosphere of a post office offered something a church could never give.” Can’t say Post Offices thrill me in the same way
“To buy a new cake of soap is to buy a fresh stretch of days. Its little weight, treasure, minutely heavy in the hand, is life, past, present and future, compactly welded.” I will look at soap in a different way from now on (or maybe not)
“Little expensive cheap things whose charm was beyond price.” OMG I know Miriam I love the tacky little expensive things too! Christmas Craft Fayres are my idea of heaven
“Both mad. Children of the reckless English who had discovered the Swiss winter.” Children and toboggans recipe for laughter (should that be disaster)
“But presently, and as if grown weary of gentle hints, and feeling the necessity of stating more forcibly the meaning of its presence out here in the glittering stillness, it took a sudden run at her heels.” Love this description of the toboggan it seems to be begging “just get on me and fly”
“Expected, being a woman, not to walk off alone, but to wait and provide, while she waited, suitable entertainment, some kind of parlour trick.” Men so demanding
3 Stars – I actually enjoyed this section (I know!)