Steven's Reviews > Breakfast in Babylon

Breakfast in Babylon by Emer Martin
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's review
Mar 31, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: novels, irish
Read in January, 2000

Martin writes great detailed character descriptions and settings, really capturing the beggar lifestyle: it seemed authentic to me. The first two chapters are interesting because they use opposite methods of characterization. In the first chapter Isolt is characterized completely by showing her actions and thoughts in her current situation. No biography whatsoever. In the second chapter, Christopher's entire life, from birth, is gone through chronologically and in great detail. The scene that starts chapter 6 is a powerful characterization of Isolt, I think it is one of the key scenes that establish the reader's sympathy/empathy. Overall the characterization of Isolt is pretty amazing. We never learn why she's gone off to live the life she has, which is something we learn about every other character, even the minor ones, with the implication being that it is not some specific event, some trauma (as it was for many of the other characters) that set her off on this lifestyle, but a general malaise, and inability to imagine other options. She does get her fill of begging, however, and takes jobs, but in the end, she is on her way to New Orleans and it is not clear what the future holds. There is the sense that she is going to survive, unlike Christopher, he's gone over the edge. I don't think I will ever forget that courtyard in Paris with the dog diarrhea coating the flagstones, what an incredible section of imagery (chapter 3.) Lots of symbolism and Christian references in the novel. Might be interesting to reread this later and see all the threads she pulls.

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Emer Martin thanks for the review Steven, just getting onto good reads and discovering there is a whole world of book lovers here.

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