I finally got around to reading this after winning a copy back in December of 2012 from Rebecca at Love at First Book. And my first response is WOW. I don’t know how I do it, but somehow I managed to avoid all spoilers about this book and as just as shocked/pissed/angry as I would’ve been two years ago if I read it when I first won a copy. In an attempt to not reveal any spoilers, this will be a very short and very vague response to the novel.
If there is one thing I dislike about many books, it is unreliable narrators, when you added in that this book has two unreliable narrators that seriously like to mess with each other mentally I’m surprised I made it through the novel. It is definitely a page turner and as you get further into the mental mire that is Nick and Amy’s relationship, you can’t get out as easily. When I turned the page to “Part Two: Boy Meets Girl,” I swore out loud and my sister thought I had finally lost it, but I was just that mad at the book.
As I said in my response to Chocolat, I had no idea there were sequels and I’m so glad I decided to read them. I haven’t started the third, Peaches for Father Frances, but I’m excited to start it soon.
Harris takes the story of Vianne and Anouk we followed in Chocolat and expands the age-old battle between good and evil. Instead of the church, this time Vianne and Anouk, now Yanne and Annie, are battling evil itself and magic takes an even more prominent role in this story than in the first. And I was glad she did! She writes about magic in such a way as to make it beautifully common.
“It took me a little longer to recognize these things as magic. Like all children reared on stories, I’d expected fireworks: magic wands and broomstick rides. The real magic of my mother’s books seemed so dull, so fustily academic, with its silly incantations and its pompous old men, that it hardly counted as magic at all.” (67)
Beautifully common, might sound like an oxymoron or an insult, but it’s not. Harris’ writes about it so matter of fact and sets it up that way in this novel, common usage versus evil usage, that you can’t help but appreciate the beauty of the magic she chooses to write about.
Honestly, I’m sad I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would. Seriously, I’ve given it the lowest rating of the year so far. I bought it in one of my bulk buys at the 2011 Boston Book festival and haven’t thought of it since. It came up on my list when I used random.org to select my next book.
Even though I finished it, I just could not invest in this book, and that’s never a good sign. It started off slow, and thankfully did pick up a good bit, but still finished slow. Seriously go read the paragraph long sentence that was the final sentence of the novel. Not fun.
I think where I struggled to enjoy the book and where the author struggled to write the book was in converting an excellent idea into a manageable and digestible amount. Thankfully, the book wasn’t longer, but it really struggled through the first half. Beth felt like a whiny idiot (she was a teenager) and Cesare just felt frigid and unapproachable. This definitely changed toward the end, but it didn’t change fast enough or thoroughly enough to make me want to bump up my rating.
Stephen King is a sick-sick man, but clearly incredibly talented to write these books. After reading Cujo, I wasn’t sure I’d read another, but my books into movies book group once again selected one. As I’m writing this I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m sure I’ll be terrified. I’m not sure if I’ll read more of King, other than 11/22/63, but if they’re all like this I’d definitely consider it, even if I do get nightmares!
I’m a little torn on this novel, as with most novels that are just outside the realm of (my) possibility I’m not sure how much to enjoy it. If it’s something I could see happening, even if it’s a super stretch, then I get a little freaked out by it, and this is definitely one of those instances. And let’s face it with the number of weirdos out there this book is totally feasible! I mean it could happen today, even with all of the technology in modern society I could easily see this happening.
I’d love to say that Fowles’ mentioning of Jane Austen didn’t sway me, but of course it did a little, but overall that was minuscule compared to the mastery Fowles showed in this novel and he mentioned Austen and her works MULTIPLE times! But it wasn’t this that made the book so great, it was the omniscient unidentified narrator and the breaking of the fourth wall (I guess it’s called that in reading as well).