Francine's Reviews > The Stolen Child

The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
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Jul 31, 08

bookshelves: favorites, modern-lit
Recommended for: Joy Macpherson, John McPartland
Read in July, 2008

What a FABULOUS book - great narrative, beautifully written, utterly captivating, a highly intelligent novel. After reading that abysmal Ken Follett book (Pillars of the Earth), I really felt like I needed something to cleanse me of that dross. Since every review I read about this book pointed towards the positive, I gave it a shot. And what a surprise - I was so completely drawn to it that I finished it in 2 days. I couldn't put it down. In fact, I didn't want it to end. I kept going back to certain passages in the text, trying to prolong the story, all the while reinforcing my understanding of these characters and their experiences.

Donoghue is one of those gifted writers - for his first effort as a novelist, this work was just absolutely wondrous. He wrote simply but effectively; he didn't have to resort to outlandish drama or hyperbole. No elaborate plot twists, no florid writing. Just simple storytelling, honest, sometimes raw, drawing on emotions both primitive and complex. He didn't have a need to spell everything out or to tie everything neatly into one square package (he may actually be one of those writers who truly believes that not every particular in a story has to be explained - that mysteries serve a purpose, and that some mysteries are better left undiscovered). Most importantly, he made no assumptions of the reader (I really hate it when writers dumb things down to appeal to all readers, or are so disdainful of "regular" readers that they ostracize them with their condescending tones and know-it-all attitudes) - he just wrote.

It was highly literary - no more so than when two of the changelings discover the library and the wonders within - but it was also accessible. There was enough explanatory material that you didn't feel like you were hobbled by what you didn't know. The corollary to that is also true: that if you did know a good amount about any of the topics in the story, that there was still something you could learn. The entire narrative was a study in dichotomies: the weaving of the two stories, the two different points of views, mortal vs. immortal, young vs. old, wild vs. civilized. The narrative was the epitome of the yin-yang. After all, these two stolen children made up one person, one complementing the other, each one incomplete until their stories and lives commingled at the end. By that point, each one was ready to move on, having accepted their natures and the roles they played in each other's lives.
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