At first this book read very slowly and confusingly for me. Characters are introduced briefly by name only, and relationships have to be puzzled out a
At first this book read very slowly and confusingly for me. Characters are introduced briefly by name only, and relationships have to be puzzled out a bit until after maybe 40 or 50 pages when things sort of fall together. Haddon introduces characters in tangential comments or references that allude to some other story, incident or interaction between the main character's family and the name-dropped character. At first it was a bit annoying because as a reader, I didn't know who was who or what these other people had to do with the main character, etc. After a bit I acclimated to this style because I realized that the writing was going a bit like the main character's thinking would go- as in, "oh, this reminds me of so-and-so that time...". It was a nice bit of verisimilitude that was at first impenetrable.
Another thing about this story that I was ambivalent about were the characters themselves. None of them are very likable at all. They are all flawed, annoying, weak humans. There again is an interesting bit that Haddon has done with the story: he has reflected reality in a way that is both interesting and tedious. I don't like these people. I don't care about these people. But I am curious what is going to happen in the sense that so many of them seem to be heading for train-wrecks in their personal lives.
Altogether this book was interesting enough to keep me reading, but not nearly as engaging in my opinion as Haddon's other work The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. When I consider my experiences and impressions of reading these two books, I find myself incredibly impressed with Haddon's skill at characters, at writing and inhabiting an individual, a realistic and complex "person". So while A Spot of Bother may not have had the most scintillating plot, it is packed full of pretty well-fleshed-out characters who interact in messy and dramatic ways that show their flaws and their saving-graces.
*potential spoiler* At first I found this novel hard to get into. In the beginning Lawrence seems to spend a long time on the exposition- on introduci*potential spoiler* At first I found this novel hard to get into. In the beginning Lawrence seems to spend a long time on the exposition- on introducing characters, laying out their history, exploring the background, setting the scene, etc., etc. Then, before I knew it I felt like I knew these characters and was interested in their flaws, their foibles, their desires, and their despairs. I was quite thoroughly caught up in the story for the greater part of it. As I neared the conclusion I began to feel a bit of dread, a sense of impending disappointment. I seemed to understand that Lawrence's verisimilitude would not allow him to write any tidy, magical happy ending in which all parties involved got what they wanted. Instead upon finishing this book I felt conflicted. On one hand I was glad that Lawrence had not ruined the entire tale by a forced fairy tale ending of any kind. On the other hand I felt dissatisfied with the ambiguity of the ending. It seemed unclear ultimately how things fell out for all the main characters. Then again, that was also pretty realistic....more
Not my favorite Jane Austen story... the character development seems a little less thorough than in her other stories. Interestingly, while reading thNot my favorite Jane Austen story... the character development seems a little less thorough than in her other stories. Interestingly, while reading this my heart and my mind were at odds with what I wanted to happen and what I thought should happen. In this way Austen's story is incredibly successful- my own "sense" and "sensibility" were in conflict along with that of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood....more