First of all, apologies. Things have been busy here with moving house, graduating and trying to find some form of employment that doesn’t make me want to tear out my eyeballs. But now that I’m unpacked and my bedroom is finally sorted, it is the perfect time to initiate my summer book club! So, lets make a start:
1.) The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
Although always weary about debut novels, I brushed that aside and reminded myself how many successful and brilliant debut novels I’ve read. Sadly, this did not live up to the expectations I had. What surprised me was its classification by The Guardian as a Gothic novel as I would have argued it was a thriller (and I use that term loosely).
Frankly, I was bored from start to finish; certain characters were flat or simply unnecessary; it seemed as if Hurley was continuously building up to something but when, half way through nothing had happened, I could feel my tension line start to slacken. As the book concluded, the main event that had been drop hinted at was left barely explained and frayed around the edges.
Both The Telegraph and The Guardian gave it rave reviews and the word ‘genius’ was thrown around once or twice. It was also shortlisted for the 2015 Costa first novel award. As I closed the book, I was angry and confused. His roots as a short story writer were glaringly obvious as the whole book could have been condensed in a 2000 word short story. Perhaps it would have even worked better. But that’s just my opinion and not, I think, the general consensus.
2.) Atonement by Ian McEwan
‘In […] Atonement Ian McEwan brings the British novel into the 21st century’ – Geoff Dyer.
Two words: Beautiful book.
From start to finish, the writing was fluent, beautiful, and insightful. Clear but intricate to the degree that I could picture the beautiful cinematography which would accompany the film. McEwan has the ability to attune his readers to even the most disturbing reality and present it on a fathomable and delicious platter. This is why the themes of his novels linger and resonate long after the turn the final page.
Atonement opens with the same passion and cloudiness mirrored by Briony in the heat of a writing fervour. The whole book is a sophisticated web of free indirect discourse, which unlike his 20th Century counterparts, McEwan uses to success. I did not find myself lost of confused, rather sucked into pre-war rural England written with such acuteness that when I breaked, I had to remind myself what year it was. Yet McEwan was never flamboyant, rather as Dyer says, ‘the language used to distill the scene […] serves also as a wash that partially obscures it.’
In all fairness, I don’t believe I have the vocabulary to express what I really want to say about this book. It’s certainly not a light, chick-flick, read. But if you want something to ease you in to the classics, or even a slightly more sophisticated piece literature, then this is a wonderful book for you. I’ve loved it and it genuinely broke my heart in places, which a book rarely does. Superb.
Join me in a couple of weeks time for the next book club!