'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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July 16, 2013

Every Contact Leaves a Trace


Have you ever had the experience of finding it hard to decide whether you could say you liked a book or not? I went back and forth on this one. In the end, I'm leaning toward liking it. I certainly admired it.

On its surface, it has a kind of conventional plot.  Boy meets girl; ten years later, boy sits next to girl at wedding and proposes the next day; girl is brutally murdered; grieving boy discovers that he doesn't know very much about his wife; boy wants to find out why she was killed; then, eventually, he does.

It's unconventional {and admirable} to write a murder mystery without a investigation. There's a police presence, but it's in the background; you learn what happened through a long {long} conversation and then in the narrator's head.

Hard, too, to have a book so full of unsympathetic (or at least damaged) characters. Sometimes very well drawn, and sometimes people you'd like if you could, but even the ones who seem charming aren't.

But Elanor Dymott is a beautifully descriptive writer. You could read this book just for the way she imagines Alex's London apartment, or a train ride from London to Oxford on a frosty afternoon, or for the scenes set in an Oxford college that has an old spiral staircase to the library, and ugly modern student blocks, and a lake, and cottages, and an orchard.  Did you know Oxford had such a place? I didn't. :)  I do hope there's another book by her, soon.

5 comments:

Lark said...

Your take on this book certainly leaves me intrigued, so thanks. It's always a good thing discovering a new author and new book to try.

fleurfisher said...

I had very similar feelings about this book. It was lovely to visit but when I came to leave I realised I had formed no real attachments and no sense of loss. But it's a promising debut, and maybe in a few years as the author advances we'll be nodding our heads wisely, and remembering we thought she had promise from the first ...

JoAnn said...

Book that strike me that way are always the hardest to write about, but your post has made me curious...

Lilac In May said...

I'm intrigued enough to give it a go.

Bellezza said...

It isn't until just recently, the last ten years or so, that description has grown on me. (My Antonia in High School? I thought I'd die!) Anyway, I've been reading books full of unsympathetic characters lately, The Exiles comes to mind, and at least there's the imagination in this that seems a redeeming factor.

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