Honestly, I did not enjoy this. The prose is quite beautiful, but to me it comes across as quite unfeeling. I suppose that's the author's intent, thisHonestly, I did not enjoy this. The prose is quite beautiful, but to me it comes across as quite unfeeling. I suppose that's the author's intent, this harrowing unsettledness, but the beauty of it was lost on me as it wasn't supported by anything else; the characters all read pretty much the same, there is a distinct lack of any sort of action. The story revolves around Coral, a live-in nurse with no family or friends and a past of loss and sexual abuse she hasn't much fought against. Plot-thread one is her marriage to Clement, son to one of her patients, who is scarred both physically and emotionally; it ends when he prompts her to leave town on their wedding night as she's suspected of murder. Plot-thread two is the murder; however, it only facillitates Coral's escape to London and is utterly uninteresting in and of itself. There is a gay subplot between Clement and his best friend, Robin, which leads Robin to prevent a possible reunion of Coral and Clement, and it made me like Robin more than any other character because he is the only one who seems to not only feel, but act upon his feelings and follow his heart, misguided as it is. Coral ends up marrying some random bloke we never hear much about; after a fifteen year gap in the narrative, we find out she's married him and Clement has married Robin's ex-wife and everyone's married but no one actually seems happy. The novel drags immensely, for me. I cannot discount the possibility that it might just be a case of an acquired taste, as most reviews of it seem to be hit-or-miss; some wax lyrically, some feel dissatisfied and disappointed and like reading it has been a waste of time - like me. I won't be recommending this book to anyone, and while I've heard better things about some of Cameron's other novels, it's unlikely I'll revisit his writing....more
This novel is so many things at once - a British public school pastiche, a coming-of-age novel, an espionage thriller, a saddening commentary on life,This novel is so many things at once - a British public school pastiche, a coming-of-age novel, an espionage thriller, a saddening commentary on life, yet at once a manifesto for everyone who's ever felt out of the ordinary, a heart-breakingly true account of the madness of being young and in love, and so on. I adored Adrian from the first, laughed out loud about 50 % of the total time I spent reading this book (which amounts to little over five or six hours, as I ripped through it). I do think it should come with a warning though; if you like novels with a clear, clean, linear plot progression (or much of a plot to begin with), this might not be your cuppa. If you are easily made uncomfortable by the very open discussion of sex, sexual deviance, and gay sex in particular, this again might not be for you. But if you are open to being taken on rather a wild ride, can handle being fooled eyes open about 50 times throughout the book, enjoy character-based novels and particularly the kind of protagonists who struggle to find a place in the world and frankly are rather sure there isn't a place for them to find at all, and are not afraid of terribly dirty, terribly intelligent, terribly British jokes, then by all means, read it!...more
I don't typically read regular fiction; I tend to stray more into the domains of genre fiction, i.e. fantasy, sThis was a complete dark horse for me.
I don't typically read regular fiction; I tend to stray more into the domains of genre fiction, i.e. fantasy, science fiction and historical fiction, or even young adult fiction. And even if I do read regular fiction, it's never this type of society-focused, upper-class-oriented stuff.
The novel, essentially, is about Edith Lavery, whom I would describe as a well-meaning and not intentionally materialistic gold digger. She manages to 'snag' Charles Uckfield, an earl, but dissatisfaction at the life she now finds herself in and the disparity with what she'd imagined it would be like get in the way of their happiness, and stuff happens. It's told from the eyes of a friend of the both of them, whom is never actually referred to by his full name.
What the novel does is paint a portrait of the English middle, upper middle and especially upper/aristocratic classes which rings painfully true (as little as I know about the subject), but is also quite charming and incredibly entertaining. Fellowes' skill at painting people accurately and amusingly is absolutely marvelous; it's been a long while since I found an author whose descriptions and character evaluations felt this honest and unstunted, completely taking into account, respecting, and even ironically mocking the essentially flawed nature of our kind.
I loved this book much, much more than I was initially expecting. A definite recommendation from me....more