Saturday, October 24, 2015

Euphoria | Lily King

I just finished this slim volume and I am sad that it's over. It is a wonderful story, really well told. Each character is compelling and we care about them. I am still thinking about them although the novel is read.

This is the story of three anthropologists working in New Guinea, in the 1930's. Told through the eyes of Andrew Bankson, it also includes notes form Nell and husband Fen who are working with tribes up river from him.

Slowly the three are mired in a three-way relationship which is passionately intellectual, theoretical and amorous. There is huge tension as they share working methods, thrashing out theories on the tribal behaviours they observe and their own behaviour as two men in love with the same woman.

Nell immerses herself among the women and children of the tribe and learns that way. She had been published, a fact Fen is jealous of and is constantly trying to prove himself to her and Bankson. He is a surly, moody and possibly violent individual, using fairly unorthodox methods in his investigations.

Bankson is beset with guilt and sorrow over the deaths of his two brothers and father, and dominated by a disapproving mother back in England. He is despondent about life and his work but his passion is ignited as he works with Fen and Nell.

The story builds to a climax, and although the outcome is unexpected, it fits perfectly with the rest of the story.

Well worth reading.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Reader on the 6.27 | Jean -Paul Didierlaurent

This book is part fable, part fairytale and is totally charming. It is possible to read it in one sitting but it is so gorgeous , one should resist the temptation and make it last!

The main protagonist is Guylain Vignolles who is  thoroughly immersed in the routines of his life. He lives alone, with his goldfish as his only companion. He goes to work on the 6.27 train, sits in the same place and reads aloud random pages he rescues from his work. He is employed to operate a book-pulping machine, a huge monster Guylain hates but is tied to in a very ironic way. He hates his boss and workmate and the whole ethos of what his work entails. The only bright spot in his bleak existence is the presence, larger than life, of the security guard at the entrance of the plant. He is enamoured with recitation and everything he says is in poetic form. 

The commuters on the 6.27 train come to love and expect the readings and Guylain has a following of sorts. One day he finds a USB left on the train and once he opens it he discovers it contains the diary of someone called Julie.  He slowly falls in love, and begins a search to find her and return her USB to her. 

A truly delightful read. Don't read it all at once though!

The Mountain Can wait | Sarah Leipciger

I seem to have read quite a few Mountain novels lately: Goat Mountain by D. Vann, Bull Mountain by B. Panowich, and this one.

I really enjoyed The Mountain Can wait. It's from a Canadian author, and it has a huge sense of space which is very much informed by the Canadian landscape.

The story begins with a young man driving in the dark on a back country road when he hits a woman. In a blind panic he rushes off without helping her. It is a  dramatic start to the novel, and the rest of the story is spent in slowly unravelling what has brought him to that point in time.

His father is a forester who manages a company  of planters, young students mostly, who live in the mountains in the summer reforesting difficult terrain. Once he learns of his son's difficulty he returns to find and help him.

This is a powerful story two families trying to survive a tragedy. Leipciger writes very well, her descriptions of the Canadian landscape are beautiful and we become aware of the environment developing as much as the characters.