Sunday, October 23, 2016

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante: a Dull and Longwinded Tale

I had high hopes of this book which were sadly dashed. I should have been warned by the list of characters at the beginning of the book - as if an author needs to have a list of characters, then they're really not doing their job correctly in bringing them to life for us in the text. And there are so many of them and they all sounded the same! I certainly couldn't keep track and wasn't interested enough to refer back to the list .. I found the main characters irritating as well, which didn't help matters. I wouldn't have been friends with either of them, LOL!
Anyway, the story is long and ambling and ends up in blind alleyways far too many times - it seems to be written in a very clunky and flat style, and focuses on the dullest parts of a scene rather than the most exciting ones. It's certainly no Dickens! There's a moment or two of excitement when Lena goes away to an island somewhere and has a few interesting experiences, but then she returns to the homeland (sadly) and her life falls back into its dull routine. The ending is abrupt and made no sense at all to me. Surely even in a series, a novel can't just stop for no apparent reason, but there has to be some kind of closure even though strands are left open for the next book.
As an aside, I really hated the cover - it's quite horrid. That said, the story idea is a good one (and deserving of 2 stars out of 5) but someone should write it properly.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor: a bleak but incisive novel

A subtly written book that’s very sharp about human nature. I was however hoping for something more light-hearted and vibrant, but those sections were few and far between. The picture of advancing age, vulnerability and approaching death, as well as the small but significant betrayals of family and friends, is essentially a grim one. It left me feeling very bleak.
3 out of 5 stars