Tim's Reviews > The Blasphemer

The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale
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Aug 05, 10

bookshelves: modern-british-fiction, reviewed
Read in July, 2010

I reviewed this for Publishers Weekly; here's my unedited review:

In this elegantly written meditation on morality (among many other topics), protagonist Daniel Kennedy, a biologist specializing in worms, is convinced of that the universe is godless—until the plane carrying him and his partner Nancy to the Galapagos Islands crashes in the ocean. In his desperate scramble to escape the sinking plane, he pushes Nancy out of the way, though returns to rescue her. The primary plot is about how Daniel and Nancy comes to terms with the near-death experience—and Daniel's betrayal, which she cannot forget or forgive. But this ambitious novel interweaves several other narratives: a backstory involving Kennedy's grandfather in World War I (the descriptions of trench warfare are brilliantly evocative), a storyline involving what may be an original manuscript of part of Mahler's "unfinished" symphony, and plotline about the couple's nine-year-old daughter and her teacher Hamdi. There are a lot of balls in the air in this ambitious, thought-provoking book, and Farndale (this is his second novel) can be didactic, but it's a terrific story, well told.
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