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Booker Longlist – The Colony by Audrey Magee

Book One – reviewed by panelists Jen, Anita and Tracy. Rated by Nicole and Susie.

Audrey Magee is an Irish novelist and journalist, who lives and works in Wicklow. The Colony is her second novel..

Synopsis from Booker Prize website: 

Mr Lloyd has decided to travel to the island by boat without engine – the authentic experience. Mr Masson will also soon be arriving for the summer. Both Englishman and Frenchman will strive to encapsulate the truth of this place – one in his paintings, the other with his faithful rendition of its speech, the language he hopes to preserve.

But the people who live on this rock – three miles wide and half a mile long – have their own views on what is being recorded, what is being taken and what is given in return. At the end of the summer, as the visitors head home, there will be a reckoning.

Jen’s Thoughts: I don’t think I truly appreciated this book until the last quarter. Most of the way through I thought it was a pleasant and interesting read but the style was emotionally detached and the pace was very slow. However, the story took a hold of me in the last quarter when the various themes came together. In all, this was a quiet but clever book. I found the thread about identity, as both self-perceived and other-perceived, and cultural appropriation fascinating, especially as it was depicted through the medium of art and language. The main plot line was interspersed with fast-paced news-like blurbs about men and women being killed in midst of the political violence in Ireland. I’d be shocked if this wasn’t shortlisted.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 18/20

Anita’s Thoughts: This book has it all – – wit, tension, beautiful language, and a wonderful character that I loved from the get go (James). It also is technically impressive, especially when revealing the back story of JP. It’s political too, but honestly that’s an overlay that adds importance to the book as a literary work, but is somewhat secondary to the great storytelling. But warning: it’s a slow build, and the ending is not neatly tied up with a pretty bow.

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 18/20

Tracy’s Thoughts: 

Oh, my goodness. I loved this book. The characters, the writing, the story- there’s so much here. It’s not just about an (prepare for alliteration) idyllic, isolated, Irish island. 

It’s about colonization, jealousy, and the very fine line between them. It’s about choices, modernization, and the very fine line between them. All of this wrapped up in one book that reads so fast that the only complaint I have is I want more. 

I’ll be sad if this isn’t shortlisted.

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 3.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 19/20

Ratings:

Nicole’s rating 

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 20/20

Susie’s Rating

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 3.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 19.5/20

Rankings
The Colony 18.9

It would have been the sigh heard ’round the literary world if this had not been longlisted, but not all love it as much as we do. Have you read it? Which side are you on?

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