Eating Air is a very unusual novel and I am still unsure as to whether I enjoyed it or not.
The book centres on a strange couple – Ella, a dancer with the Royal Ballet and Donny, a violent anarchist. It isn’t long before they become involved in illegal acts and start to form relationships with terrorists. Spanning 30 years and several countries, this is an ambitious novel, which confused me as much as it shocked and entertained me.
The characters were evil and impossible to like. They swore continually and, although there wasn’t a great deal of violence, they discussed it and made light of horrific acts. The book did contain a lot of humor, but I felt uneasy about some of the jokes.
There were a large number of characters, which meant that I sometimes lost track of who each one was and it also took me a while to realise that the story had flipped back/forward in time, as there was nothing to indicate this at the start of each chapter.
The writing was beautiful though. I loved the vivid descriptions which were present throughout the book.
The ending had a profound effect on me – I predicted it in advance, but when it finally occurred, it was much more powerful than I ever imagined. I think I will remember it for a long time.
Pauline Melville is clearly a talented writer and I think it was mainly the subject matter that caused me to struggle with this book. I am keen to read The Ventriloquist’s Tale, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, as I am sure I will enjoy it much more.
If you are interested in the lives of terrorists, then this book would be an interesting choice. The originality of this book should not be ignored and, as it contained a number of thought-provoking issues, this book would be a great choice for a tolerant book group.
Have you read any Pauline Melville’s books?
Can you enjoy a book where all the characters are evil?