Mallory's Reviews > Andorra

Andorra by Peter Cameron
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Jan 20, 2009

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Read in February, 2009

(Fair warning, this review contains spoilers.)

I didn't get it.

I hate saying that about a book, because I sound stupid. Like there was something that I missed because I am lacking some crucial quality that fans of this novel possess. I have to say it for Andorra, though. I didn't get it.

I would like to start off saying that I did appreciate Cameron's style of writing. He had a way of describing scenery and people, and a natural flow that made finishing this book bearable. No, I'm being unkind. I did enjoy reading Andorra, even if certain aspects of it unnerved me.

Now, on to the list of things that bothered me about this book.

For one, basically all of the main characters seemed boring and lifeless to me. It was a sharp contrast to the beautifully-described world around them. For instance, the main character Alex claimed to love Mrs. Dent. However, there was nothing about the way he acted or about the way that they interacted that would imply love. There was no chain of events that would seem to lead to romantic attraction between the two characters. Their interactions with each other seemed mostly cold and proper, and there were scenes where I got the impression that they didn't even really like each other. Yet, oh my, there it is! That word "love" that should always be seen rather than heard. And it seemed as if everyone loved everyone else, didn't it? Alex loved Mrs. Dent. Mr. Dent loved Alex. Mr. Dent and Mrs. Dent loved each other. Alex loved Jean Quay. It seemed as if the word love was used rather loosely. Love as a plot device is much more effective if its effects are shown, rather than the word itself being thrown around haphazardly.

I think the only character in this book that I found interesting at all was Vere Fallowfield, and it was unfortunate that he had such a small role in the story.

Character weakness aside, what was with the dead bodies in the harbor? That never really went anywhere, did it? I kept expecting Alex to remember doing it in a fit of hysteric misery or rage (though he really didn't seem the hysteric type; he wasn't very enthusiastic about anything at all). But you never find out who did it. There are never any hints. It was a device simply to make trouble for the main character. It think it might have been better if Alex had had some inkling as to who had committed the murders, or if there had been some suspects besides him. Then maybe it would have fit more comfortably into the plot.

Then you find out that Alex killed his own wife and daughter. Well, that doesn't seem in-character, does it? The story presents him as a fairly logical, go-with-the-flow kind of guy. The kind of person who might, I don't know, come to a civil agreement with his wife and get a divorce rather than murdering her?

So in the end, Alex escapes to France with the help of Jean and Vere. Then suddenly: page break, and Alex is in jail? What. The fuck. Where did that come from? Did he get arrested for killing his wife and daughter? Was he detained for the murders in Andorra? Was it some other crime entirely? Did he get caught in France or somewhere else? You never find out. Oh, I bet you think you're clever, Peter Cameron. Leaving the ending all sad and ambiguous. Sorry, I don't buy it. It seems more like you had a deadline to reach, and so you scribbled out a concluding paragraph really fast.

I would like to read some of Cameron's other work, because Andorra just didn't live up to the potential that I believe he has.

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02/03/2009 page 3
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Shabazz Andorra was in the characters head, a way of coping with his imprisonment. Everything was symbolic, he committed the murders. He becomes hysterical because, with the murders, his fictional world is crumbling. Try reading it again.

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