Friday, September 10, 2010

The Great Library Challenge: Dean, Louise Becoming Strangers

Posted by lea at 1:03 PM
My D author for the Great Library Challenge, Louise Dean, was the Winner of the Butty Trask Prize and this particular novel, Becoming Strangers, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Do literary prizes mean much? I'm not so sure. I'd be more inclined to pick up a book that's won something, but as in this case, it won't always be a rewarding read.

I'm not saying this book sucked, just that it... didn't capture me. At all. It was a hard read because I couldn't identify with any of the characters and didn't particularly like any of them - in fact, I quite detested one of them, but that's not the emotion I would've liked to carry away.

The plot revolves around two couples on their last holidays in the Caribbean - in both cases, one party is suffering from illness (cancer and alzheimers). Another review described this book as 'an examination of the human condition' and I couldn't have put it better. I wanted something to happen, for there to be a build up or a climax or SOMETHING... but nothing much really happens except some detailed insight into some very well-worn marriages. Even so, it manages in its own way to be quite thought provoking.

Dean, through her protagonists and observations of peripheral characters, questions your ideas of marriage and loyalty. It's like taking one of those blue lights from CSI and flashing it into a real marriage, so you can see all the stains and crap that aren't normally visible. The marriages in her novel are way too real and rather depressing.

Halfway through the novel, I found myself turning to hubster and saying in a fit of passion, 'When we grow old, let's never become like those couples who grow apart, and let things get in the way of their relationship and never deal with issues.' And he was like, 'What the...? Okay.'

For now, this is my least favourite book from the Challenge, but with 22 more to go, I'm bound to hit some duds.

So onto my 'E' author... I chose Umberto Eco and originally I was going to read The Island of the Day Before, but a quick search found that there's an almost unanimous agreement that The Name of the Rose is his best work, so I'm going to wait until I can get my hands on that. In the meantime, I've borrowed Neil Gaiman's The Sandman graphic novel to keep me busy.

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