This book is everything I wanted it to be, and more.
I'm a little reserved in my reading tastes, but this book was 99p on Amazon, and I was feeling a...moreThis book is everything I wanted it to be, and more.
I'm a little reserved in my reading tastes, but this book was 99p on Amazon, and I was feeling a little homesick and just wanted a good cry. (Some context: I'm on a year abroad in Canada, and this is currently the longest I've ever spent outside of England)
What I wasn't expecting, however, was how much of a chord this book would strike. I was completely unaware it was set in Manchester, yet I couldn't have been happier that it was. There are a number of points in the book that seem like an in-joke, just for those of us lucky enough to have spent our Uni experience getting drunk at 42nd Street and watching our boyfriends slightly terrible band play live, but then you realise that all of these experiences are explained so well that everyone can enjoy them.
There are some treats, however, such as her description of central library "your IQ goes up a few points simply by entering the building", the rain which "manages to be both vertical and horizontal at the same time" and her description of the city at night "the blasts of music and the splashes of light cast from bars that are still open, shoals of brightly dressed clubbers, the beeping taxis and the greasy, savoury smell of meat and onions from the burger vans," all of which seem to simply read my mind, and all of which gave me such a rush of affection for the city that I thought myself crazy for ever wanting to leave it.
The characters are exactly what they needed to be, and the story, though treading fairly well worn ground, treads it with such spirit and warmth that I never wanted to leave the book, I just wanted to roll around in it forever and ever.
I loved it, and it gave me exactly what I needed, a little slice of home.(less)
There is something in the writing of Penelope Lively that never fails to captivate me. Perhaps it is due to the subtlety of her writing, the way in wh...moreThere is something in the writing of Penelope Lively that never fails to captivate me. Perhaps it is due to the subtlety of her writing, the way in which the characters are built up so slowly and perfectly that you feel like you know all you need without any of the long soliloquies found throughout much contemporary literature. Perhaps it is because many of them are set in an England similar to the one that I myself have experienced, a past that I know of and have been told about by my grandparents, a history I can relate to. Perhaps is because she is simply a remarkable author.
I particularly liked this book for the progression, the way in which the story spans three whole generations without dragging. The book is somewhat eternal, as highlighted by Lucas, when he argues that "perhaps some stories never end... aren't there other people in your story?" This book certainly has a story that I believe starts long before the first page and continues long after the book ends. It is a story of consequences, of the little moments in which history stumbles across the turning points, and I really rather enjoyed it.(less)
I read this book whilst on a boat. Normally this would not be relevant, but after over a week in close proximity with 52 other people, no contact with...moreI read this book whilst on a boat. Normally this would not be relevant, but after over a week in close proximity with 52 other people, no contact with the outside world and very little sleep, I think it would be fair to say that, at the time of reading, I may have had a slight case of cabin fever.
Bearing this in mind, I can safely say 'the Financial Lives of the Poets' is a brilliant book to read whilst on the verge of insanity as it is, in itself, a book which verges upon insanity. The story, as with Shakespeare's King Lear and Sylvia Plath's the Bell Jar, demonstrates the clarity bought upon by madness. I'm not suggesting the Financial Lives of the Poets is anything like these two great works, it just has a similar feel to it, it makes madness seem like something which is not so far from normality.
Of course, it seems I am missing the point. Yes, the book is about the financial crisis, the flaws in the capitalist system, all of which I know and care very little about. In my childish and ignorant opinion all this seems to do is bring an omnipresent theme throughout literature into the present day. For me the most interesting aspect of the novel was the fact that in order for the narrator to notice the cracks in his life, he had to watch it crumble and how through this the novel seemed to display only two alternatives: ignorance or insanity.
Aside from my bizarre interpretation (which it is completely acceptable to put down to cabin fever), the book is nicely written, it flows, and it takes very little effort to read; it carries you along with it so that what, with hindsight, appears a rather ridiculous plot seems perfectly normal. It also made me laugh, a lot.
Basically, here's the point I'm trying, and failing, to make: if you're ever planning on sailing across the North Sea, this book is the perfect book to take with you. And if you're not, read it anyway, it's sweet, clever and it will make you smile even if you don't feel like it should.(less)
This book is truly stunning, it blew me away. It only takes a short while to read, but is definitely worth it; it finds the beauty in sadness and the...moreThis book is truly stunning, it blew me away. It only takes a short while to read, but is definitely worth it; it finds the beauty in sadness and the sadness in beauty. It's just wonderful.(less)