lizabelle: (Old coat new book)
[personal profile] lizabelle
I had a gorgeous weekend away from my life last weekend; it involved lots of walking (in the pouring rain), watching tennis, exploring gift shops and lots and lots of reading. Here are the results:

Jazz - Toni Morrison: ****

I was never going to love this as much as Beloved, but it bears many Morrison hallmarks: prose that often reads more like poetry, multiple points of view, and a narrative that starts with a situation and then explores its history. I also found the setting (1920s Harlem) fascinating - who doesn't enjoy reading about a place they know nothing about, particularly if it's in Morrison's evocative prose?

The Whole Day Through - Patrick Gale: ***

I love the way Patrick Gale writes, but I felt rather ranty at the end of this book. Two characters who have allowed life to defeat them somewhat are reunited unexpectedly when they both move to Winchester to care for relatives. As usual with Gale, The Whole Day Through is not a linear story; instead, layers are exposed and re-examined one by one, and I found this process absorbing.

Gay characters are a common feature of Gale's novels; in this case the gay man was my favourite character, Ben's brother Bobby, who has Mosaic Down's Syndrome. It was great to see him portrayed as such a well-rounded character who is not defined by his medical condition, despite it being a big part of him.

Because this is Gale, nothing about the characters' relationships is straightforward, including the ending. I can't discuss that without spoilers, so : I wasn't really expecting them to get together - that would have been too pat. But I found the last chapter so, so frustrating. We can assume that Ben is at least vaguely happy with his wife and any children they may have adopted. On the other hand, Laura (who we now know almost ruined her life when he dumped her at university) is still stranded in Winchester looking after her mother, still wearing Ben's ring and moping around after him, and there's no indication that anything else interesting is happening in her life. Argh! Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic or demanding, but I find it difficult to believe that anyone would behave in such a fatalistic, defeated manner.

Ahem. Anyway. Beautiful writing; frustrating characters.


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