Tried to read this after being blown away by The Black Eyed Susan's by Heaberlin. Not in the same league for me. Started off promising but descended iTried to read this after being blown away by The Black Eyed Susan's by Heaberlin. Not in the same league for me. Started off promising but descended into a Texas version of Desperate Housewives. Not a problem in its self as I loved the TV series. It just wasn't what I expected after my previous knock out experience with the author....more
My initial response on completion was that I didn't like the book. I felt uncomfortable with some of the subject matter. The prose in the first half fMy initial response on completion was that I didn't like the book. I felt uncomfortable with some of the subject matter. The prose in the first half felt clunky, clipped and disjointed. Then the second half felt more coherent and better put together. The two halves felt disconnected; two different books. Overall, 'The Girl Who Wasn't There' was an interesting read but one which at times felt rather arty and pretentious with too much poetic ambiguous embellishment and at times I was either confused or irritated by it. A rather odd little crime novel !
After pulling it apart to find out why I didn't like the book, I actually began to appreciate how clever Ferdinand von Schirach had been in creating this complex novel and that what I disliked was not the book itself but my reaction to particular scenes and subject matter. However on reflection I think they were necessary to tune into the mindset of the character concerned. I won't divulge what these scenes were as it would spoil the storyline and enjoyment of the read for others. Everything it seems was intended to offend or provoke some form of reaction or thought response. A rather clever little crime novel !
My main concern for 'The Girl Who Wasn't There' is that readers will give up after the first half perhaps feeling as I did, alienated and disconnected to Sebastian von Eschburg and therefore, not give it the chance it deserves.
The pacing of first half of the book is slow, dark, abstract and disjointed with short, sharp sentences. It concentrates on Sebastian von Eschburg a ten year old boy who is different to most children his age. He sees the world around him in the form of colours rather than objects.
"He saw what other people saw, but in his mind the colours were different. His nanny’s hands were cyan and amber; his hair, as he saw it, shone violet with a touch of ochre; his father’s skin was a pale greenish blue."
Sebastian lives a lonely, detached existence and after his father's suicide he is sent away to boarding school by his emotionally absent mother where he becomes ever more insular. It is at boarding school where he finds an outlet and is able to make sense of the world with his new found interest in photography in which he develops a real talent.
The second half of the book focuses on Monika Landau, the prosecutor, and Konrad Biegler, the defence lawyer who Sebastian requests to represent him when he is accused of murder in unusual circumstances. This half is in total contrast and is faster paced, much more engaging and rewarding and ultimately leads to the (not too unexpected in my case) conclusion.
For me the main weakness in the book is the title itself. Originally entitled 'Tabu' for its German publication it was renamed 'The Girl Who Wasn't There' for its English speaking audience. Interesting and complex a plot as it is, it fell flat at the 'big reveal', and to my mind the former title is more suited due to the provocative themes in the main of the storyline, rather than the latter which focuses on its conclusion.
Not a must read book but certainly an interesting and thought provoking one including themes of violence, the representation of sex and violence as an art form, sex trafficking, and torture.
'The Girl Who Wasn't There' by Ferdinand von Schirach, a defence attorney himself and author of 'The Collini Case' is most definitely not your usual crime thriller and certainly not going to be for everyone but I'd definitely recommend it to those who have read, 'The Collini Case' and Albert Camus' 'The Stranger' and to those appreciative in the arts particularly art vs pornography and the justice system.
A great choice for book reading groups with plenty of 'food for thought' topics for discussion.
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of 'The Girl Who Wasn't There' was provided by Liitle Brown via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
Update 25/7/15: After drafting a review I have on reflection decided to give a 3 star rating.
21/7/15 - 2.5 rating Review to come if I can be bothered. Liked....bored...irritated...liked....wtf ! First part: disjointed, short sharp sentences, odd second: Little bit better, showed promise until court scene and just really hated it. Too arty, and pretentious imo.
Disclaimer: Received ARC from publisher for review purposes....more
I had a hard time with this one. I truly wanted to love it but regretfully have to say that it wasn't to my liking.
I have no doubt that Alison Case'sI had a hard time with this one. I truly wanted to love it but regretfully have to say that it wasn't to my liking.
I have no doubt that Alison Case's debut offering will become a best seller. So why my lack of enthusiasm? My first reading of Wuthering Heights was over twenty years ago and I fell in love with Emily Bronte's gothic classic. Maybe I'm stuck in the past with my 15 year old romanticised memories of the spirited Cathy and the broody Heathcliff running wild together on the Yorkshire moors. Could it be that my memories of this classic have merged and blurred with the memory of Hollywood's 1939 film version with Merle Oberon as Cathy and Laurence Olivier's Heathcliff ? Is a reread of the classic in order or should I leave it and retain my fond memories?
I digress, as the retelling of Wuthering Heights from Nelly's perspective through her written correspondence to Mr Lockwood, Nelly recounts, including less favourable details omitted in her original account, the unfortunate events that befell the families at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. The 194 pages I managed to read felt like a chore and it became apparent that I wouldn't finish the book in time to submit my review in the deadline timeframe. Nor did I have the patience to persevere and had to admit defeat.
Nelly Dean is undoubtably well written. The pace is slow allowing the reader to become fully acquainted with the characters. However they felt flat and uninteresting to me. Had I continued with the novel I may have changed my view but I didn't feel connected enough to want to find out. I may be missing out on a brilliant novel, perhaps timing was wrong, and I may try to read it again sometime.
Nelly Dean is a perfect companion to Bronte's Wuthering Heights, for fans of Jo Baker's Longbourne (of which I'm one), Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist, and Tracy Chevalier. It would certainly make an excellent book club choice.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced reading copy of the book from the publisher via Lovereading .co.uk for an unbiased review.
I didn't finish reading Nelly Dean and am therefore, only able give my thoughts on the chapters read and do not wish to influence the reader in any way and would like to point out that I am in a minority with my opinions and even though this one wasn't for me I look forward to Alison Case's next offering....more
Set in Belfast, 'Those We Left Behind' is an atmospheric and gripping psychological thriller. A 'must read' for all crime thriller fans. It follows foSet in Belfast, 'Those We Left Behind' is an atmospheric and gripping psychological thriller. A 'must read' for all crime thriller fans. It follows four key characters, along two timeframes which are seamlessly executed.
Ciaran Devine is being released on parole after serving seven years for killing his foster father. His older brother, Thomas, released two years earlier is anticipating their reunion. DCI Serena Flanagan has just returned to the department after recovering from breast cancer. Probation Officer Paula Cunningham has been working with Ciaran to help him adjust to his release from prison.
'Those We Left Behind' is narrated in each character's point of view. Ciaran portrays a quiet, insular, troubled and anguished child, even as an adult on release it was difficult to imagine him as a nineteen year old man. It was as if he hadn't aged mentally and just remained in the past. I read somewhere that this often happens. That there is little emotional or mental maturing in very young offenders. Time stays still. They remain in the past, unable to develop or mature. The world moves on leaving them in stasis. The 'outside' becomes a hostile, alien place. If this was Neville's intention to portray Ciaran as emotionally stunted then he did exactly what he set out to do.
DCI Serena Flanagan shows signs of being a maverick detective as she will fight to achieve what she believes in even if it goes against the grain and causes tension with her superiors. There is also a vulnerability about her which comes to the fore during her interviews with Ciaran.
Paula Cunningham, Ciaran's probation officer, believes he is innocent of the crime he confessed to and works towards helping him break free of the unnatural hold his older brother has over him and tell the truth about what happened that night.
Flanagan and Cunningham work together after a murder once again brings the brothers under suspicion. Each endeavour to unburden Ciaran of his loyalty to his brother, but Thomas is not ready to relinquish his hold and be abandoned or betrayed and trouble ensues.
There is another strand running alongside the main storyline about the paramilitary and the difficulties encountered by the community who want to live as normal a life as possible in the aftermath of 'The Troubles'. This is only touched on with the team leaders where Ciaran finds work, but it certainly has an impact and demonstrates the current tensions and compromises of working and living alongside each other.
'Those We Left Behind' is a character driven, emotional thought-provoking read about abusive sibling relationships and obsession. Highly compelling it is also about how violent crime affects everyone involved from the perpetrators, to the family of the victim, and the investigating team. Above all it show how there is never any real closure for those left in its aftermath.
'Those We Left Behind' is the first novel I've read by Stuart Neville and I was not disappointed. I look forward to reading what's in store for the main character DCI Serena Flanagan now that she has been awarded justifiably her own series after featuring in Neville's previous novels.
'Those We Left Behind' will surely generate some interesting discussion at book reading groups. Highly recommended.
Disclaimer: I received a complementary copy for an honest, unbiased review from the Publisher & Dead Good Books (GoodReads) Group...more