Book #37 of 2005 finished

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....and it took forever. Book #37 was An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears.

It's not that it's not an interesting book, it's just that it is so densely packed with info, characters, history and biases that you have to keep thinking "Now, M was who?"

The story takes place in 1663 in England. A teacher (and a pretty unloveable guy) at Oxford is murdered. Who is guilty? The story is told as four manuscripts written by four different people involved in the story in different ways. Each of them fingers a different person as the murderer, and posits a different reason why.

And in that sense it is a fascinating book--seeing how the assumptions each of the "authors" colored how they interpreted actions that each of them saw. And it is a chilling look at doing "what must be done" to "keep the peace" regardless of what it costs in innocent human lives.

That said, though, I wouldn't say that this was a book that I particularly enjoyed. I could see the author's skill, which I thought was pretty awesome, but the book itself left me cold. Great technically, just not a rewarding enough read.

By the way, that's not the take of most of the reviewers on Most of them were far more positive about the book than I. If you've heard about it, you might want to read something more than my lukewarm response.


i'll give the more than lukewarm response. i read this book when it first came out (five children ago, back when i had time to read something as cerebral as this) and i LOVED every minute of it. i was fascinated by the seventeenth century prejudices and how people could have such strongly opposing ideas. i think i'm the one who recommended this to you, so i'm sorry it wasn't a better read.

Arrgghh!! I mean (ahem) good for you! I'm just mad because the only book I came close to finishing (and I did in my own way) was "The Red Tent". That was two months ago. I am currently reading bits and pieces of books on child training/raising/whatever. Ah, to read a book all the way through. Maybe in 18 years when all the kids are out of the house. Maybe I'll write all these titles down for when that time comes.

Smock, I feel about this book the same way I feel about Quentin Tarantino movies: You can see his genius; it shines through every page. But it is a genius in the service of a story that I never felt I was on the *inside* of.

I read one of Iain Pears detective novels, and felt exactly the same way. He shows his intellect, but I didn't care all that much about his characters.

I didn't dislike the book--and the insight into 17th century society was impressive. But it didn't have the sweep, drama and compelling characters of something like Kristin Lavransdatter, say. I don't read solely for emotion, but I'd say there has to be some in there for me to *enjoy* it.

Dear MamaT,

I'm with Smock on this one. But, it may have been the time period and all sorts of other things in it. I couldn't recommend it highly enough. But one must recall that I also like The Club Dumas--so I'm one for reading these kinds of convoluted, involved, and relatively slow books. I definitely wouldn't recommend this for beach-reading. And, in fact, when the possibility of doing it came up in one of my book groups, I recommended that each person read only one of the persons and then come and give the impression of the book. We never did that, but I bet it would have made for an absolutely fascinating discussion.

Reason for my suggestion was that some members did not like reading anything over 250-300 pages in length. Still, don't you think that would make for an interesting bookgroup? Whodunnit x 4.



Steven, what would be cool is to divide it up that way and then have everyone argue the case from their narrator's viewpoint.

I want to argue Jack Prestcott--because I feel like I'm living in an asylum some days! I'll just imagine that all is well and that I've been restored to my proper place!



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on August 18, 2005 10:44 AM.

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