‘Flying to Nowhere’ is set on a Welsh island, and is centred around a monastery. A church agent comes to the island to investigate the disappearance of pilgrims visiting a sacred well, while the local abbot is at his dissection table searching for the location of the soul.
‘The Elected Member’ won the Booker prize in 1971. It is the story of one man’s battle with drugs, and how his family cope with having a drug addict as part of the family. Norman is a bright, young Jewish boy living in a tight knit family in London’s East end. He has a promising law career ahead of him, but when a tragic event occurs Norman’s life begins to fall apart. His family struggle to deal with the series of events that follow. The story is told from each member of the family’s point of view. It is very moving, and although I have no personal experience of drug abuse it all seems very vivid and realistic. The drug taking is not glorified, as it can be in some books, and although Norman comes across as a deeply troubled man, you feel great sympathy for his situation.
I was totally gripped by this book. My only criticism is that there is no joy to be found anywhere. It leaves you feeling quite deflated and depressed. The writing is very accomplished, and even though you don’t necessarily want to be there, you are transported into the world completely. The descriptions of Norman’s hallucinations were particularly realistic.
Highly recommended – but have a box of tissues handy!!
4 out of 5 (point removed because it was so depressing!)
‘Oscar and Lucinda’ won the Booker prize in 1988. It is the story of the undeclared love between clergyman Oscar Hopkins and the heiress Lucinda Leplastrier. It is based in southern England and then Australia in the mid-1800s, and follows the lives of these two characters, as they struggle with gambling and their relationship with each other.
This book started off really well. The characters were well drawn, and I felt an emotional attachment to them from the beginning. The plot flowed smoothly until about Oscar’s arrival in Australia, when I found it lost it’s pace and grip on me. I think that without the tension between Oscar and Lucinda this part of the book was lacking that magic spark. I ploughed on through these lifeless, boring pages and was grateful when it improved in the last 50 pages – I loved the shocking ending. Overall it was very good, but could do with being a slightly shorter.
Rated: 3.5 out of 5