Monday, 27 March 2017

The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink

The Woman on the StairsThe Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a sucker for a flawed narrator, especially when the reader catches glimpses of those flaws ahead of the narrator's discovery of them in him or herself, but only as long as there's ample opportunity for redemption and the opportunities are eventually grasped. In part, these aspects drew me to the naive and unimaginative lawyer in Bernhard Schlink's wonderful The Woman on the Stairs: his inability to understand Irene Gundlach, the mysterious woman who modelled for the eponymous painting, coupled with his determination to be her shining knight - to 'save her' and have her love him... while failing to see that it was he who needed saving. Although his behaviour was a tad irritating at times (offset by the arrogance of both the artist and her ex-husband), the delightfully mellow narrative voice of this novel draws the reader along towards a beautiful, redemptive climax (albeit a far from expected one.) A rich novel.

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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

The Book of SpeculationThe Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Erika Swyler's The Book of Speculation is a delightful read. I entered its world after being disappointed by several other attempted reads (mainly novels by Booker Prize winners and short-listers) and found it to be a breath of fresh air. I particularly enjoy books that introduce hints of magic or that flirt with the surreal, without being too far-fetched and while remaining grounded in the 'ordinary every-day', and The Book of Speculation certainly satisfied this for me. Loved the two narratives - past and present - and the way they intertwined, and was quickly drawn to the characters (and their relationships) so that I wanted to see how each of their stories connected and played out. Nice one.

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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Penguin ... butcher

This shop sign conjures a range of graphic images. I recently came across it in the beautiful, north-west Tasmanian town of Penguin.