I liked this more than I thought I would. Max is not a very sympathetic character, but this book was very easy to read and so well written.
What is it...moreI liked this more than I thought I would. Max is not a very sympathetic character, but this book was very easy to read and so well written.
What is it about? A middle aged art historian struggles to come to terms with his grief at the loss of his wife. Searching for some kind of solace he revisits Ballyless, a seaside town where he spent his holidays as a child. He relives the events of one summer there when he met and befriended a more well to do family who took him way beyond the normal boundaries of his experience.
But really it's about the destablising effect of grief on identity. John Banville is a master wordsmith and he uses his full powers to allow us to feel the confusion, apathy and despair of the protagonist, Max.
Most of the characters that people the book are caricatures who represent types. This is clearly deliberate and their names serve to emphasize this (a strange woman, Mrs Strange...) Why? Perhaps to suggest that we are not unique but are reading the same script that has been played out many times before. Nothing new under the sun?
Oh and I loved the writing...
"We have had a storm. I enjoyed it outrageously, the room aflicker around me and the sky stamping up and down in a fury, breaking its bones. At last, I thought, at last the elements have achieved a pitch of magnificence to match my inner turmoil! I felt transfigured."
I liked this book. Gentle, moving description of how music can take us into another plane. I'm not a musician, but I enjoy music and I have been livin...moreI liked this book. Gentle, moving description of how music can take us into another plane. I'm not a musician, but I enjoy music and I have been living in and around musos for many years. This rang so true. Did he live in our little circle?? At times the language becomes too ultra lyrical, a little to self absorbed. But I enjoyed the read, enough happening in his life to keep the interest and a few minor twists.
This one is about a male violinist and his loves - the woman and the violin. How he comes close to losing both. The real skill is in describing his quartet, the power of the relationship between them, the power of the music they play
As a Brit living in Australia, I think I also enjoyed a bit of London from far away.
The recent loss of my father has challenged me to deal with the reality of death. CS Lewis writes a journal of his feelings following his loss of his...moreThe recent loss of my father has challenged me to deal with the reality of death. CS Lewis writes a journal of his feelings following his loss of his wife, his anger at God, and traces the way he deals with his loss on a day to day (or night to night) basis. This is very authentic, honest and enlightening. I'd encourage for anyone recently bereaved, you dont have to be a devout Christian for this to help.(less)
An evocative trip into Thatcher's London in the 80s. Interesting from the viewpoint of a post 9/11 world to read about the attractions of Muslim funda...moreAn evocative trip into Thatcher's London in the 80s. Interesting from the viewpoint of a post 9/11 world to read about the attractions of Muslim fundamentalism to second generation immigrants in the UK. I'd forgotten about the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and hadn't linked that in to later events.
But this novel is more than that. It's not just about the confused identify of the immigrant, especially one of a different colour and religion, its just as much about growing up, finding yourself and choosing the people you want to be with and more importantly the person you want to be.
I liked the central character, but couldn't bear Deedee Osgood the female love interest. She and her husband were painted beautifully as an anachronistic liberal couple who had lost their "religion", socialism.
Definitely worth a read. I'd give it 4 stars but I found the sex scenes with Deedee overdone.(less)
What a saga. I just don't know whether I could say I enjoyed this book. Most of the time I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and yes I lik...moreWhat a saga. I just don't know whether I could say I enjoyed this book. Most of the time I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and yes I liked some of the characters, but just how many rapes and attempted rapes are really necessary? It seemed to me that Ken Follett was finding them just a little bit too titillating.
Overall, it was a great window into a different time and helps us see the significance of such a grand gesture as building a cathedral in that period. On the downside, the characters were a little too two-dimensional, good guys and bad guys.
If I could rate it 3.5 stars that would be about right. I did enjoy many hours of reading, but I won't be moving on to the sequel.(less)