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The Hired Man
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2016 Book Discussions > The Hired Man - Chapters 11 to 21 and Whole Book, Spoilers Allowed (July 2016)

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Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
This thread covers the second half of the book, and anything else you wish to discuss. A few introductory questions (feel free to add your own or discuss anything else):
Any general impressions of the book? Did your sympathies change as the story unfolded? The historical part of the story is revealed very gradually, like layers of an onion - Did you feel this worked? How do you feel Aminatta Forna's experience of African wars affected the way she writes about European ones? Do you feel she was successful in escaping being pigeonholed as an African writer? Did you feel Forna's attempt to distance herself from specifics of the conflict work?


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2395 comments I liked the way the author slowly revealed the tension and backstory. Duro used the English family to increase tension in the village and put the brother (I do not have the book at hand and names are escaping me) on edge. I thought he acted a bit dangerously in antagonizing the tavern owner, whom he knew all along was evil.

I've not read any other books by the author so can't speak as to whether, with this book, she was successful in "escaping" being pigeonholed as an African writer. I can say that I thought her description of the Balkan wars felt right.


Trudie (trudieb) I read this book 2 years ago now and so I probably can't add too much to the specific discussion as things have become a little hazy. I do recall being adamant I needed to pick up The Memory of Love at some stage and so far I have yet to read it !
I also recall I liked the sort of intimacy of this novel in as much as it zero's in a the effects of war on one village and the various relationships within it. It also forced me to do some quick background reading on the conflict as I had a sketchy grasp on the details.
Another detail I retained was the mosaic ...


message 4: by Hugh (last edited Jul 04, 2016 08:04AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
The Memory of Love is definitely well worth reading - that was the first one I read - I picked it up purely on the strength of having seen an article in the Guardian which may have been an extract from the memoir several years earlier. The Memory of Love shows how she saw Sierra Leone in the late 60s as an optimistic, idealistic place, and how civilisation and order declined in a similar way to what happened when Yugoslavia broke up.

The memoir The Devil that Danced on the Water is brilliant and heartbreaking too - understanding the story of Forna's father, his role in the post-independence government of Sierra Leone and his sacking and subsequent murder certainly helps to place Forna's fiction in context.


message 5: by Lily (last edited Jul 04, 2016 07:52AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments I want to read The Devil That Danced on the Water: A Daughter's Quest , both because of Hugh's comments and wanting to know more of the background of Forna. As well as background for The Memory of Love.

For me, TMoL was Dickensian in scope, with its numerous characters relevant to the plot and subplots. I may be no avid fan of Dickens, but I do greatly respect his ability to weave so many characters into a story. Forna's characters seem modern and developed to the point appropriate to their role in the story -- sometimes a few lines, sometimes incidents over years. I sense some of that playing with appropriate scope of character definition in THH, from Laura's husband to Matthew to the townspeople. I shall be interested in people's reactions to the appropriateness of what Forna has done here -- and in thinking about my own assessments and what I will think worth sharing!


message 6: by Britta (last edited Jul 06, 2016 12:00PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Britta Böhler I've just finished the book, and I thought it was beautiful. I especially loved the quiet and subdued way in which Forna showed the effects of the war (and how people have to deal with it afterwards).

There were a couple of times, though, that I felt slightly cheated by the author for plot reasons (when Duro first 'discovers' the mozaic, and gives no sign that he had seen it before). And once or twice I thought the 'hints' about the war were a bit too thick (e.g. the scene in the Cafe when Fabjan watches the ICTY trial on tv).


Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Thanks Britta, glad you enjoyed it


message 8: by Lily (last edited Jul 06, 2016 03:27PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Britta wrote: "I've just finished the book, and I thought it was beautiful. I especially loved the quiet and subdued way in which Forna showed the effects of the war (and how people have to deal with it afterward..."

Britta -- I was fascinated by your choice of words ("beautiful, quiet and subdued way") to describe what Forna has done here. As I looked for a perspective on your perspective, I discovered you are author of a (historical fiction) book about Thomas Mann and his decision to leave Germany ( The Decision ).

THH does give us only subdued violent outbursts remaining as an effect of the war (a drunken Fabjan accosts Laura, black graffiti appears on the door of the empty Orthodox church, the summer waitress leaves,...) but I was left with a feeling of malign malaise remaining in Gost. The description of Duro stumbling, finally running, through and from the shallow graves somehow reminded me of Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Twentieth-Century Russia.


message 9: by Lily (last edited Jul 06, 2016 08:13PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments "Duro’s restoration of the house is described in the past tense, while the memories it prompts are recalled in the historic present. This device seems clumsy, but as the story progresses it grows in effectiveness, and demonstrates Forna’s central idea about the relationship between past and present."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/bo...

Okay, so what is Lewis Jones implying is Forna's central idea about the relationship between past and present? Is it like Mia Couto's on Mozambique (see post 18 in first thread): "And moreover, in rural parts of Mozambique the notion of nonlinear time is still dominant. For them, the past has not passed." Or is like the Syrians: the past is visible before one, the future is approaching from the not see-able behind.

Hmm -- in her review, Joy Lo Dico writes: "As Duro notes drily, the English are always in love with the past, but for his countrymen, it is a place best avoided."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/bo...

Then John Freeman writes in The Boston Globe:

"Memories of his childhood arise, called up by sudden proximity to the unburdened foreigners, and Forna elegantly depicts the mind of a man giving in, at last, to the call of the past."

"...it becomes clear that there are two realities in the small town: the one where the past shades every moment, even the tiniest gesture between villagers, and another where the past is gone."

https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/book...


message 10: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Lily,

Thanks again for posting those. The Telegraph review demonstrates exactly why Forna was complaining about being pigeonholed - nowhere does it acknowledge that Forna's mother was British or that she has spent more of her life in Britain than in Africa.


message 11: by Lily (last edited Jul 07, 2016 06:42PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Do we know definitively what happened to Anka? Did I gloss over some key information? Help, please....


Britta Böhler Lily wrote: "Do we know definitively what happened to Anna? Did I gloss over some key information? Help, please...."

My understanding is that we dont know what happened to Anka; we only know that she escaped and disappeared into the woods with a gun. But we don't find out whether she survived or not.


message 13: by Lily (last edited Jul 15, 2016 04:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Britta wrote: "My understanding is that we dont know what happened to Anka; we only know that ..."

Thanks, Britta, that was very helpful and saved me some re-reading!

Maybe that is part of why Duro stays, in hope she might return? As I understood it, her husband's death was confirmed.

This mingled sense of bring everything back to what it was versus all is different. That is a somewhat different feel than in TMoL, which seemed to have a sense of there is little going back, at least for the skilled, who must continue to deal with the aftermath. Others, less fortunate, can only survive in little menial daily ways.


message 14: by Hugh (last edited Jul 11, 2016 03:09AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Lily, Britta, I think between you, you have got there - I think the lack of closure on what happened to Anka is part of Duro's motivation for remaining in Gost, but I think showing defiance to the likes of Fabjan and Krešimir comes into it too.


Britta Böhler Hugh wrote: "Lily, Britta, I think between you, you have got there - I think the lack of closure on what happened to Anka is part of Duro's motivation for remaining in Gost, but I think showing defiance to the ..."

Yes, I agree; I believe that Duro stays, so that Fabjan and Kresimir aren't able / aren't allowed to forget what happened and what they did. With regard to Anka, I think Duro's motivation to stay is maybe not so much to find out what happened to her, but mainly to keep hoping (that she survived, that she might return).


message 16: by Lily (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Britta wrote: "Yes, I agree; I believe that Duro stays, so that Fabjan and Kresimir aren't able / aren't allowed to forget what happened..."

What a brilliant insight! Is that struggle part of what you saw when you wrote about Mann?


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2395 comments Britta wrote: "I believe that Duro stays, so that Fabjan and Kresimir aren't able / aren't allowed to forget what happened and what they did. With regard to Anka, I think Duro's motivation to stay is maybe not so much to find out what happened to her, but mainly to keep hoping (that she survived, that she might return)."

I agree Britta. Duro wants to be sure that no one forgets what Fabjan and Kresimir did and he remains hopeful that Anka may return one day and he wants her to find him there if she does. What I liked at the end was the appearance of graffiti that indicated, at least for me, that Duro's "manipulations" had awoken some of the villagers and inspired them to warn that what happened would not be permitted to happen again. That's probably a bit optimistic on both my and the graffiti-writers part!


Dianne | 224 comments Just finished this book, talk about a slow build! I have never seen anything like it! 200 pages in and you still don't totally understand what the novel is about, there are various instances of foreshadowing and foreboding but it is not clear what Forna is driving at. Duro is such a enigmatic character, so restrained, so controlled, so repressed. I was surprised he didn't snap. I agree that he may be waiting for Anka but I feel like there was more to it than that, that for him, Fabjan, Kresimir, there was no life outside of Gost. Like for those who experience war, and can't adjust to 'regular' life, I think these three cannot even imagine a life outside of Gost. From birth, childhood, friendships, relationships, business transactions, town gossip, war atrocities, death, and rebirth they have been together. There is no reality outside of that for them.


message 19: by Franky (last edited Jul 12, 2016 01:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Franky | 118 comments I just finished last night and still working out my thoughts about the book. I really like the slow build, and like Dianne said, I felt like we were nearing the end and not really understanding everything there is to understand. I also liked how Forna seems to let the reader in to this journey by not pushing anything on us, just letting things naturally unfold. Very solid writing and work. Like I said, I'm still working things out in my mind, but I really enjoyed it. And I am all for "open ended" endings, and I think this qualifies in some ways as we have to answer some questions about characters and plot that aren't just given to us. Thanks for picking this book :)


message 20: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Thanks Dianne and Franky. You have both highlighted one of the main things that drew me to this book - the subtlety of the revelations and the insight this gives into how fragile civilisation can be and how it breaks down by almost imperceptibly small degrees. I'm glad the reaction has been so positive - I was a little apprehensive about how other readers would receive this, but I think my gut instinct about it was right.


Dianne | 224 comments To be honest hugh, I don't think I would have picked this one based on the cover, great insight/instinct!


message 22: by Hugh (last edited Jul 13, 2016 12:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
The cover is interesting - you do wonder what the publishers were trying to convey - anyone looking for a cosy story about family life in a holiday home would be disappointed, but the book is more about the effects of war than war itself, and that is difficult to convey visually. I'm not sure I'd have noticed the book if I hadn't already been familiar with Forna's earlier books, but I'm not sure that The Memory of Love is that well served by its cover either.


message 23: by Jan (new)

Jan Notzon | 102 comments Can someone remind me what the group is reading in August?


message 24: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Jan wrote: "Can someone remind me what the group is reading in August?"
Jan, There are better places within the group to ask this kind of question - for example the Questions thread here:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...
Since I know the answers I'll give them here anyway:
Open Pick: Stonemouth by Iain Banks
Moderator Pick, The Sellout by Paul Beatty


message 25: by Diego (last edited Jul 14, 2016 11:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diego Anthoons I've finished it late last night, I just hád to read the last 50 pages before going to bed, such a gripping and moving story! I really enjoyed reading the novel, and I've been thinking a lot about it today. Most interesting for me was the narrator, who had a huge and interesting influence on how we view some things (and when we learn of some other). One example: we only learn Kos is blind halfway through the novel. This is just a small example, but showed me the power the narrator has over the story. I also really enjoyed Forna's writing style: Frequently I reread a passage because it was just so beautifully written. A four star book (or even 4,5) for me, and I will definitely read other work by Forna.


message 26: by Lily (last edited Jul 15, 2016 05:06PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Diego wrote: "Frequently I reread a passage because it was just so beautifully written. ..."

Diego -- are you willing to take the time to give an example? I am fascinated by what others consider "beautiful writing." I do happen to be one who feels Forna provides examples of it, but in her case, for me, it is more her ability to depict the inner values of a character by a single line or simple anecdote than it is her metaphors or her descriptions or her sentences. (I can give examples from The Memory of Love better than I can from THM.)

The following article may be of interest on the topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/17/boo...


message 27: by Lily (last edited Jul 15, 2016 06:30PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments An observation on the possible symbolism of "chevron" from an Amazon review ("not a natural"):

"When Duro takes Laura and her children for a long walk to show them the countryside, they follow 'the marks of a tractor through the grass [over] sun-hardened chevrons of soil.' A scene that could be more peaceful and bucolic only if the imprinted chevrons were replaced by workhorse's hoof prints. As it is, however, I think this image is the first intimation of one of the most brutally important, socially and culturally destructive events in the life of Duro and the history of Gost and the rest of Croatia: The Croation War of Independence. Chevrons -- a sergeant's stripes! -- a stretch, perhaps, but the superimposition of militaristic rankings on traditional agricultural imprints is too striking to ignore."

It had not caught my attention. ;-( The value of sharing observations among readers....


message 28: by Lily (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments I have found myself searching for others that have commented on this book. Here are a few scraps I have collected:

On the war: (view spoiler)

Is Forna coy about ethnicity and, if so, why? (view spoiler)

More: (view spoiler)


message 29: by Hugh (last edited Jul 16, 2016 09:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Lily,

Thanks again. This was part of what I was getting at with my question about Forna distancing herself from the specifics of the conflict. I don't think Gost necessarily represents the real Croatian town of the same name literally, and as an author Forna is entitled to create her own fictional geography, at least at a local level, as long as it is consistent with the bigger picture. I must admit that I thought Duro (and all of the main characters except Javor and his family) was Catholic and Croat, so I'm intrigued by Blumenau's reading...


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2395 comments Hugh wrote: "I must admit that I thought Duro (and all of the main characters except Javor and his family) was Catholic and Croat, so I'm intrigued by Blumenthal's reading... "

I agree, Hugh. I thought all the main characters except Javor and Javor's family were Catholic and Croat.


Diego Anthoons Lily wrote: "Diego -- are you willing to take the time to give an example? I am fascinated by what others consider "..."

I agree with you in that the “beautiful” for me was also not necessarily in the descriptions or formulations, but rather in her writing technique. There are, however, a few descriptions which I really liked. I think here especially of the scene when Duro discovers the ravine: I could sense the rain, the smell of death and Duro’s disgust. Also beautiful was the scene when Duro stays overnight at the blue house after the “drunk from a wedding” shouted. Forna plays with sounds there: “the staccato sweep of the second hand”, then the rhythm of Duro’s heart and the other hearts beating in the house, and still later “the sound of the breeze through the tree tops, the whispers and murmurs of the house … The low hum of the fountain pump. Above it all the water, like a descant sung by a choir.” I could hear all these sounds and loved how they somehow created a tension, although nothing happens.

Most of the passages I marked showed great writing technique (in ways of storytelling, suggesting things et cetera) rather than beautiful formulations. Forna can say a lot with few words, and that is how I like it. Perhaps what I really meant in my first post was that she writes cleverly. One of my favorite passages in this respect is the end of chapter 8. There is so much left unspoken (or is it just me?). What happens actually? Does someone light the fire? Who? Kresimir? Another great part for me is the beginning of chapter 18, where I liked the ‘we-perspective’ and how suddenly the sentence “so what we lack they send to us” dropped.

A combination of Forna’s beautiful and skillful writing I see in the end of chapter 3, when Duro imagines himself as a bird and hops through bedroom windows. The meaning of this scene became only clear to me when I had finished the novel. When you know about the history of the town, a lot of words have a different meaning (“ravine”, “dark shadow”, “without touching each other”, “shadow”, the repetition at the end).

I also marked quite some dialogues in the novel, especially the ones in the beginning between Laura and Duro, and the ones between Duro and Fabjan (can you call them dialogues really?) because of what you indicated: the depiction of a character in a single line (or a few lines).

And thanks to your remark about The Memory of Love, I have added it to my to-read list!


Diego Anthoons Linda wrote: "Hugh wrote: "I must admit that I thought Duro (and all of the main characters except Javor and his family) was Catholic and Croat, so I'm intrigued by Blumenthal's reading... "

I agree, Hugh. I th..."


Wow, this is indeed an interesting reading. I never even considered the possibility of Duro not being Croatian.


message 33: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Thanks Diego - some very interesting thoughts there!


message 34: by Hugh (last edited Jul 18, 2016 01:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Diego wrote: "Wow, this is indeed an interesting reading. I never even considered the possibility of Duro not being Croatian."
I think Blumenau is jumping to conclusions because of what he knows about the real Gost - I think Forna's Gost is more of a fictional construction than a real place, but she liked the name for its linguistic resonances (the suggestion of ghosts)


message 35: by Gabby (new)

Gabby | 4 comments This was a beautifully written book with great insight into growing up in a small and narrow minded society where you have to fit in no matter what, Duro just went along and followed Kresimir as a child, and accepted him as an adult even though they despised each other but remained civil because you do not want to be an outcast in this kind of society. The brutality of the war honed some villagers to be complicit and the opposition never thought to turn these people in as they had to co-exist in sadness and reality of war. Gost held them together, they could not leave ..... Who else would understand them. Loved that the English visitors were used to bring the past to the fore and Grace so young was asking all the right questions. Great read.


message 36: by Lily (last edited Jul 18, 2016 01:18PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Diego wrote: "And thanks to your remark about The Memory of Love, I have added it to my to-read list!..."

Diego -- thank you for your lengthy and so thoughtful response to my question about "literary beauty." I so much enjoy such conversations! My thx esp for calling to attention to the sounds -- I don't think I had noticed so closely and certainly hadn't remembered.

I hope you enjoy TMoL as much as I did. It has a much larger number of characters than THM, almost Dickensian in scope. I consider it one of my top reads of 2016.


message 37: by Lily (last edited Jul 18, 2016 06:01PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Here is an interview with Aminatta at the Jalpur Literature Festival, published in 2/2013. It centers on The Hired Man.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WhxC...

You will see others are available; this is the only one I have watched so far.


message 38: by Diego (last edited Jul 19, 2016 01:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diego Anthoons Lily wrote: "Diego -- thank you for your lengthy and so thoughtful response to my question about "liter..."

My pleasure, Lily! I enjoy this kind of conversation as well. Language can be so beautiful :-). About the sounds: I was reading this scene late at night in utter silence, and maybe if I had read it during the day, I would not have noticed her play with sounds as much as I did now.

TMoL sounds interesting and something completely different than THM with its strong focus on Duro and Laura's family.


message 39: by Diego (last edited Jul 19, 2016 01:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diego Anthoons Another question popped up in my mind today, I just keep thinking about this novel. How should we see the relation between the writing style and the design of the novel (i.e. a memoir of Duro)? Duro is of course not a native speaker of English , as he stresses himself somewhere in the novel...


message 40: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Diego, that is an interesting question. I don't remember any explanation of why Duro is writing the memoir or who it is for - it seems too structured to be seen as conversational so maybe it is more of a diary, but that would be pure speculation on my part.

As Lily says, The Memory of Love has a larger cast of strong characters, and its focus frequently switches between multiple viewpoints as well as different periods in time.


message 41: by Lily (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Diego wrote: "...About the sounds: I was reading this scene late at night in utter silence..."

Diego -- thanks for sharing that insight/perspective.

THM continues to haunt me in ways I can't quite describe. One I have been thinking about is a parallel with a character in TMoL: the character there occasionally wanders off from her native village and ends up in the mental facility where one of the lead characters, a doctor from London, works. He relates her condition to PTSD variants among citizens of war-torn areas, mental conditions he has read about in the literature. Only later does he discover she is living in the household of her daughter where (view spoiler) (This is not a spoiler to the main threads of the book, but it does reveal information about a significant secondary story. So if you care before reading the book, don't open it. If of lesser importance to you, it'll help you understand why I make the parallel with THM -- the ways exposure to violence can continue to haunt lives.)


Calzean The story unwinds slowly, subtly but with great intent. It focuses on decisions made during war, decisions faced by a person well away from their normal environment, and how to deal with these decisions in the post-war period, especially when your former enemy was and still is part of your community. It also highlights that the true person is seen in periods of stress.
I assumed Duro was writing this memoir as he had no one who he could trust to talk to.


James | 72 comments Hugh wrote: "I don't remember any explanation of why Duro is writing the memoir or who it is for .."

Thought the novel was brilliant. Certainly gripping - start to finish. I feel I remember Duro saying somewhere why he was writing but his statement was pretty vague. He certainly talks later about those who wish to forget and those who wish to remember. Duro clearly needs to remember and his role in life now is to make sure others don’t forget, especially Kresimir. But he doesn’t just write about the horrors of the past; he also covers these recent events. I guess he needs to record his current role of ‘vigilante’. It proves he didn't let things disappear into the past.

One point I didn’t get clear was what hold exactly Fabjan had over Kresimir?


message 44: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Thanks for your interesting thoughts Jim and Calzean. I'm not sure what the answer to your question about Fabjan's hold over Kresimir other than a shared past (and shared complicity) - would anyone else like to answer or speculate?


message 45: by Diego (last edited Jul 21, 2016 11:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diego Anthoons Thanks, everybody. I found the scene Jim mentions, I think. It is at the end of chapter 3. He says that the idea came to him after he browsed through the letters and found nothing but bills and official letters. He wonders: "is this all that remains? When I look back to that night I see that the idea for writing this seeded then. Would I take it all with me? Who would tell me story?"

Afterwards, Duro adresses the reader directly:

"Some days I wondered what would happen to my own house when I was gone ... They will go through my papers and when they do they will find this. Maybe that person is you. Or at least, I have to tell this story and I must tell it to somebody, so it may as well be you, come to sort through my belongings. You are young and you don't know or don't remember the things that happened. Nobody seems to remember, even those who are old enough, those who were there. But I remember it all, every grinding minute, hour and day, how things unfolded."

What do you find vague about this, Jim? I thought it corresponds rather nicely with your portrayal of Duro and the importance of remembering the past. Thanks also for calling to my attention how Duro records recent events as well (and possibly why).

My original question was more related to the little discussion with Lily about literary beauty in the novel. It is indeed (as Hugh indicates) some kind of diary, but one with a purpose of not letting the past be forgotten, and adressed at whoever finds it. I just wondered whether we should ignore the fact that Duro's writing in a language that is not this mother tongue and could because of that probably not produce such a 'literary' memoir?


Diego Anthoons Jim wrote: "One point I didn’t get clear was what hold exactly Fabjan had over Kresimir?"

Great question, Jim. I had the same question, especially towards the end, when the graffiti appears and Fabjan can make Kresimir stay in Gost. I can't think of any other reason than the shared complicity already mentioned by Hugh. Could this be the only reason? It is of course a very strong one, but still...


message 47: by Viv (new) - rated it 5 stars

Viv JM | 62 comments I just finished this today and I thought it was rather wonderful. I loved the way the tension was slowly built, and I found the different grammatical tenses used really made me think about how the past and present are so intertwined. We can never get away from the past and Duro takes the attitude that he doesn't want to forget, whereas other characters seem to be trying to do the opposite (Fabjan, for example)

I thought it was interesting that Forna never really explained why the different sides were killing each other. It was certainly more a study of how war affects people's ordinary lives (which reminded me a little of Half of a Yellow Sun another wonderful book exploring the impact of civil war on people's lives and loyalties)

I too wondered about the hold Fabjan had over Kresimir and drew the same conclusion - that it was their shared complicity. Fabjan is clearly quite a scary guy!

I plan to read more of Forna's work - so thanks, Hugh, for picking this book - another great new-to-me author to discover :-)


message 48: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Viv, thanks. This has been a great discussion that has surprised me with the lack of dissenting voices! Just goes to show what a powerful writer Forna is and that she was right to reject the typecasting.


James | 72 comments Diego wrote: ""Some days I wondered what would happen to my own house when I was gone ... They will go through my papers and when they do they will find this. Maybe that person is you. Or at least, I have to tell this story and I must tell it to somebody, so it may as well be you, come to sort through my belongings.."

Thanks for finding this extract (I did try to locate it). But you're absolutely right, it's not vague at all. Just vague in my recall of it.

Really good book and I'm keen now on reading The Devil That Danced on the Water: A Daughter's Quest even before TMoL


message 50: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2799 comments Mod
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. As always, the discussion will remain open for further comments beyond the end of the month, so feel free to add more.


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