Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bedtime reading

The stack of books I've been lent to read have proved to be not quite perfect for bedtime reading. It's not because they've been less than good reads; it's because they're too large to hold open in one hand while lying in bed. This especially applies to Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which is big enough to be problematic even when I'm holding it with both hands and sitting upright. However, it hasn't stopped me from finishing it.

I took me a while to get through this book, partly because it's such a big, thick book and partly because of the content. It's written in a 19th century style and chockful of distracting footnotes which, though usually interesting or amusing, don't necessarily add to the narrative. But in the end I'm glad I persisted because I ended up enjoying it tremendously. Like I've said before, it's sort of a Harry Potter for grown-ups. Not that it's more serious, just that the writing style would probably bore the same child who'd tear through J. K. Rowling's latest.

I've passed it onto the boy to read, because I suspect that many of the book's references to English magic are based on actual English folklore or magic lore. He likes that kind of thing you see, because he has a bit of Ripper in him (gratuitous BtVS reference).

I've also finished Atonement by Ian McKewan. Set in a pre-WWII upper class English country estate and WWII France and London, it's about the consequences of a young girl's over-active imagination which puts her older sister's new boyfriend in prison. Quite a large portion of the book is about the boyfriend, after his sentence has been truncated to allow him to enlist in the army. The last chapters tell how the girl, now grown up, tries to make up for what she did. Perhaps it's because this isn't the kind of book I normally read, but throughout most of the book I was simply impatient for something to happen.

On the other hand, the ending made reading it worthwhile because the focus is back on the main issue of the story, and McKewen doesn't try to give us a Hollywood-happy ending.


allison paskett said...

i liked both jonathan strange and atonement and i enjoyed finding your commentaries here. what's next on the booklist?

Make Tea Not War said...

Oh good, glad you enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I like Victorian fiction so found the 19th century style particularly fun. But, you are right, it was very heavy. I think I ended up just reading it sitting at the table so I didn't have to hold it up.

Violet said...

I'm currently reading Easter Island by Jennifer Vanderbes, two mini-plots about women visiting Easter Island, and Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince (and who isn't?). The first was lent to me by a friend, and the other was bought and finished in a single weekend by the boy.