Rob's Reviews > Bold as Love

Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones
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's review
Mar 20, 2011

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bookshelves: genre-fiction, sf, read-in-2011
Read from March 20 to 26, 2011

(7/10) This book was published in 2001, but it seems like a relic of the 60s and 70s, taking seriously the idea that rock and roll can change the world. That's not a bad thing, just kind of odd. Bold as Love rests on the improbable idea of a bunch of counterculture rockers taking over the government of England and trying to steer it through crisis after crisis.

The larger point is that this is a kind of mock epic, in which the Arthurian saga is retold through the lens of rock and rebellion, and it does that well enough (although I'm not too familiar with Arthuriana). This too seems kind of antiquated in an age where the public persona of the rock star has been replaced by that of the rapper, and actual rock stars are boring middle-aged white guys making music for other boring middle-aged white guys. But Jones makes this concept work through the strength of her writing and characterization, especially that of the core triumvarte. Those three central characters are all well-rounded and instantly likeable while being realy fucked up as well. The scenes with the three of them bonding far away from the world of crises are in fact the best in the novel

Of course, the issue with trying to tell an epic with flawed heroes is that they still have to be *heroes* somehow, elevated above the masses. Jones seems to do thsi by heaping disdain on just about everyone outside of the Holy Trinity, especially the rank and file of the countercultural movement they lead. This is my major problem with Bold as Love, which is I suppose mainly a political one: for all it s subversive scenery, it's just restating the whole Great Man theory of history over again.

Of course, that could change over the course of the series, but I didn't love this book enough to go for another 4 rounds of it. I am looking forward to reading some of Jones' other work though, as she has some serious kung-fu. Bold as Love is just about perfect for what it is, but I'm not really sure I like what it is.
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