I was working in a bookshop when I read this, and I finished it while on holiday. I have a strange memory when it comes to books - even though sometimI was working in a bookshop when I read this, and I finished it while on holiday. I have a strange memory when it comes to books - even though sometimes the plot lines and characters may become blurred or even forgotten, I almost always can remember where I was and what I was doing while I read it. And I have some quite vivid memories about this book, even though it was over two years ago.
One of my colleagues saw that I had just started it, and said that in her opinion, the first 100 pages had been fantastic but after that it became mundane and predictable. For me, though, I found it exactly the other way around. I remember sitting on the tube (I was working in London, for my sins!) reading the first section, thinking 'I bet I know exactly what happens - it's so Dickensian, it's going to be like Oliver Twist etc etc etc.' But about 100 pages in, the narrative took a completely new turn that I had not expected and I was hooked. I read the rest of it in a couple of days. The atmosphere is totally overwhelming. Waters has created an utterly believable world, one you can see, hear and smell. Absolutely recommended.
Now, I quite enjoyed this. I didn't find it particularly funny, as I was told I should, but nonetheless I found it an entertaining and sometimes instrNow, I quite enjoyed this. I didn't find it particularly funny, as I was told I should, but nonetheless I found it an entertaining and sometimes instructive read. It is supposed to be a dark, ironic comedy. I got the darkness and the irony, but just not the comedy. Yet still I wanted to keep reading.
Being not Jewish myself, I sometimes found the very Jewish-ness of it a little strange, but in a good way - it made me want to explore the culture more to see if Jacobson's portrayal of it was at all realistic. So I lent my copy to a family member who is Jewish and asked for his take on it. He hated the book, saying that it was too bitter for his taste and did not portray any culture with which he was familiar.
I found the anti-Zionism aspect of the novel sometimes a bit on the nose. I kept thinking that if the author hadn't himself been Jewish, then a lot of the narrative could be taken as offensive - but perhaps I was focusing too much on that aspect.
I guess what I am trying to say is that this was a book which raised a lot of questions, not always easily answerable. I also enjoyed the narrative and identified on the whole with the characters. But it seems fairly apparent to me that the author had an axe to grind and had no shame ramming this home through the novel. ...more
I first came across this book in an English Literature exam. It was the kind of exam where you're given a selection of excerpts and poems which you'veI first came across this book in an English Literature exam. It was the kind of exam where you're given a selection of excerpts and poems which you've never seen before and you have to analyse them for common themes etc. Suffice to say, I cannot remember what other extracts were on the paper, but a section of the first chapter of The Mill on the Floss really stood out as something I wanted to read more of. This was the most enjoyable exam I've ever sat, and I HATE sitting exams!
So a couple of years later, when I came across a copy, I bought it. It's a book that has remained with me ever since, especially that ending. I won't give anything away, except to say that I finished it during a day-trip to Whitby on the historical steam railway, and this book and that day will forever be tied together in my mind. The ending was, for me, so utterly unexpected and unrelenting that I felt sort of punch-drunk for a while afterwards.
Definitely recommended, but it's not a relaxing or easy read, and be prepared to be quite angry while reading it! ...more