The Rebel Angels – Robertson Davies

The Rebel Angels tells the story of four academics in a Canadian University, and how their lives are changed by the death of an eccentric art collector. It does not feel like a book in its own right, as it ends fairly abruptly, without covering many of the issues raised initially. It seems to be more like an introduction to the rest of The Cornish Trilogy. The pace of the book is fairly slow, but the writing is so rich that it doesn’t really matter. The characters are introduced gradually, but are all interesting people.

The plot is fairly minimal, but life inside the Canadian University is described well. It may not be strictly realistic, but it was probably more interesting than the real thing.

There were quite a few academic references, and some of them went over my head, as I’m not an expert in art/literature, but it didn’t detract from the enjoyability of the book, and I’m now looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

2000 - 2007 Recommended books Richard and Judy Book Club

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

Books Before Blogging Review

It has been almost a year since I read this moving story about the lives of two women in Afghanistan. I was completely gripped from beginning to end. The two women, Mariam and Laila, were great characters – I was totally drawn into their world. The emotions in this book were very powerful, and as a result this became the most harrowing book I have ever read. I found it much more distressing to read than The Kite Runner, and some of the scenes will stay with me forever.

Highly recommended, but keep a box of tissues handy!

2000 - 2007 Booker Prize

Darkmans – Nicola Barker

I was really looking forward to reading this book, as the cover makes it sound really interesting.

…..Elen, an enigmatic chiropodist, whose unstable husband, Dory, believes that their only son, Fleet, has been fathered by the deranged ghost of an evil, 500-year old court-jester…….a magical yet somehow instantly familiar world in which language crackles like static….. 

Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. The writing style was very annoying. I felt like I was being treated like an idiot, as obvious things were explained in brackets on a regular basis.

The character build up was OK at first, but failed to develop fully. They just didn’t come across as very believable. The dialogue between the characters wasn’t very natural, and their continual misunderstandings, resulting in large gaps and then:



really grated on me.

The plot was very sporadic, and had no forward momentum, so I found my thougths wandering off. This happened more frequently as the book went on, and so I finally gave up 250 pages in. This is the first Booker short listed book that I have failed to complete. I agonised over whether, or not, to finish it, so checked as many other reviews as possible. I discovered that people decide they either love or hate this book very quickly. Those that dislike the book, are left even more frustrated by the ending, so as I have nearly 500 pages left to read to reach this point I think I’ll leave it there.

I would, however, still love to read a book about a 500-year old court-jester fathering a child from Kent! If you’ve seen one – let me know!!

Other Uncategorized

999 Challenge

I’ve decided to take part in the 999 challenge which involves reading nine books, from nine different categories in 2009. This is going to be a massive challenge for me, as I normally only read about 80 books a year, so making sure they all fit into one of the categories might be quite hard! I’m willing to give it a try though!

My nine categories are:

1. Books published in 2009

2. Books short listed for Booker Prize

3. Books short listed for the Orange Prize

4. Non – Fiction

5. Books in translation

6.  Books set in America

7. Books set in Asia

8. Books set in Europe

9. Classics

Booker Prize

The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid

The Reluctant Fundamentalist was short listed for the Booker Prize in 2007. It follows Changez, a Muslim from a once wealthy family in Pakistan, as he moves to America to take up a place at Princeton, and then onto a high-flying finance job in New York.

Changez relates his story to an unknown American over a meal, back in his home town of Lahore. I found this writing style slightly irritating at first, and although I could never say that I liked it, by the end I realise how important it was for the book.

The story takes place over the events of September 11th, and we see how reactions to Pakistanis in America, change after this event. The book contains many challenging ideas about prejudice and racism. It is very relevant to the world today, and although I think the book will age fairly quickly, anyone wanting to know the feelings of the world at the beginning of this century should refer to this book. The delicate subject matter of the East – West divide is handled very sensitively, and although the writing is fairly simple, it is very powerful.

When I first finished the book I was very disappointed with the ending. After a few days of reflection, however, I came to realise how clever the ambiguous ending was. Without revealing what happens, I’ll just say that the way you view the events of the last page says a lot about your racial prejudices. A thought provoking, insightful novel.




Read and Review Challenge 2009

The Read and Review Challenge is to review every book you read between January 1st and December 31st, 2009.

I’ve been doing this for a few months now, so hopefully this challenge won’t be too hard for me, and it is a great incentive to keep going with it!