After just shy of 150 pages, I had to give up on this one, a thing which I rarely do and always feel bad about. Despite the many glowing reviews I'veAfter just shy of 150 pages, I had to give up on this one, a thing which I rarely do and always feel bad about. Despite the many glowing reviews I've read of it, and wanting to get into it, this book just never gained any real traction for me. I think that, as another reviewer here pointed out, you only ever observe the main character's deeds and what happens to her. You never gain insight into her thoughts, or those of any of her companions, besides what they say. It prevents you from feeling truly connected to the character. Also, there really is very little action in the chapters of the book which I got through, and what there is is presented so dryly as to seem unremarkable. Perhaps it's just me, but I found the whole thing rather disappointing....more
**spoiler alert** I haven't yet seen "The American", the George Clooney film based on this book, but I'll admit that seeing the cover in the library l**spoiler alert** I haven't yet seen "The American", the George Clooney film based on this book, but I'll admit that seeing the cover in the library led me to pick it up out of my curiosity about the film. I had read some reviewers who felt it was an incredibly slow film, but I had still been interested in seeing it.
Having read the book, I can say that I would see why this might not make a great movie, at least in the view of the average American moviegoer. There is little action, and relatively few characters of interest. The book, told from first-person perspective by the main character (called "Mr. Butterfly" and later "Edmund", we never learn his true name), a man whose profession puts him on the wrong side of the law but, in his opinion, on the right side of history. Part recollection of his career, part memoir, part overview of his artistry, and part a travel guide of a small mountain town and surrounding environs in Italy, "A Very Private Gentleman" is an introspective and largely insular book about a very insular man, yet it remains crisp, tinged with emotion, and captivating.
One might think that a book about a man involved in the art and business of international assassinations might be more full of action, but our protagonist makes it plain that he is no James Bond. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining and engrossing read.
In the interest of full disclosure, this was a short book (and appropriately so) that I read over the course of a holiday trip home, and it served a refreshing palate cleanser after spending the last nine months or so re-reading the first four books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, quickly followed by the fifth (and most recent) edition of that series. Perhaps that is why I was so taken by it, for the sheer different nature of it. Regardless, I truly enjoyed this book, for the picture it painted of a beautiful Italian countryside whose people and places still seem stuck in the medieval, insulated - in many ways the same as the main character - from the marching on of time. I'm not sure if I can recommend it to any of my friends, knowing the preferences of most of them when it comes to their books, but if you are so inclined and willing to be patient with a book whose purpose is one of ebbing and flowing tension, rather than constant action or even intense character development and change, you might enjoy this one....more