Another Booker Prize novel and another struggle for me. What is going on? I was given this book for my birthday in January 2011 and it was one of those books that I had always heard great things about and desperately wanted to read. Plus as an Art Deco freak the cover seduced me.
I had no real preconceived knowledge about the book, apart from thinking it would be brilliant.
However, as I started this book I became annoyed I must say with the switching story lines, although all connected, they were disconnected through time and location and substance. I struggled to find context in the narrative of the couple, which actually contained the most enjoyable aspect of the book through the male characters story telling. I sensed that the overall saga was being narrated by the older sister Iris, but this didn’t appear confirmed until over a third of the way into the book. Maybe I need more structure and direction from my books? Maybe I’m a bit slow … nah!
Now I may appear quite contradictory as I did actually enjoy the book in some ways, but overall it left me feeling empty. I struggled with the oppression of the female characters and their lack of power and drive, particularly after the death of the mother. I would love to read a story where on the death of the mother, the child takes their lives in their hands and makes a positive, purposeful and powerful way forward in their world. Can you recommend one to me?
Once I had worked out who all the characters were I decided that I disliked the main protagonist of the story. Is this normal or am I becoming intolerant? I dont think so as I like most people I meet and know. So why do so many authors today want to portray people as such unlikeable characters with few redeeming features. Maybe I just live a sheltered life surrounded by lovely people – lucky me!
Whilst the main character annoyed me I found myself eagerly awaiting the Blind Assassin story. Again this seems to be a recurring theme in books I have read of late. I’m not choosing them to read by design, but it appears to becoming an increasingly popular method used in story telling today.
Would I recommend this book? Not highly and I know Atwood has an amazing fan base, but I’ve missed something and perhaps this wasn’t the best book to read of hers. Can you recommend another of hers that is a must read?