Kirsten's Reviews > A Spot of Bother

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
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's review
Jan 22, 08

Recommended to Kirsten by: NPR
Read in January, 2008

A very entertaining and intelligent "page-turner", which is a rare combination of traits. As a story told from four well-written viewpoints, it succeeds in evoking an emotional connection with the characters. But I worry about too much modern fiction presenting the literary equivalent of short serial television episodes all jumbled together in something described as a novel.

I suppose readers' attention spans are becoming shorter, but should fiction really cater to that fact? There is definitely a craft to revealing multiple characters' motivations without resorting to the division of a book into 144 chapters written from different perspectives. It made me feel like a choose-your-own-adventure reader when I flipped through dozens of pages to continue on with one character's story for more than just four paragraphs at a time.

However, I have to say that the device certainly worked. I really couldn't put this book down, even while cooking. The characters felt three-dimensional (flawless in their depiction, in fact) and the plot was realistic yet unpredictable.

Just one teensy complaint: all four narrators had too many reveries about family holidays to foreign countries. Obviously this was a ploy to show just how close-knit this clan really is, but some other flashback options would have been appreciated. ...Or maybe we are to believe that the only time this family really existed together was on vacation, which is quite possible.

Just the right amount of convincing character arcs made this book worthy of an overused jacket-blurb adjective: heartwarming.
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message 1: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Fabu review! I can just picture you in your kitchen, a pot of pasta boiling away, with your left hand holding this book with your thumb and pinky folding the pages back. Maybe some sauce bubbles up and splashes on the pages and you let out a mild oath or two softly to yourself.

I know what you mean about the multiple chapters thing - it's such a pervasive trend. Maybe it's a big seller thing. It could be called the DaVinci Code effect...

Kirsten Brenda! You described exactly the cooking scenario to which I was referring. Right down to the traditional cooking-pasta-but-book-holding hand position. Wow.

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