Thursday, March 29, 2007

Book Review

This month, the MoHo book club chose to read "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" by Susanna Clarke. . Being one of the newest members of the club, I anxiously went and bought my copy and started to read it. Yesterday, March 28th, was the day we were supposed to post our review.

I have to confess that I haven't finished reading it yet. It's a long book (over 1,000 pages) and I have nearly 300 pages left to read. Initially, I thought I would wait until I finished the book before I posted my review. But, when I was talking about it with my wife, she pointed out that the fact that I haven't finished it yet says something about how I feel about the book. It's not that I haven't had the time. I've managed to find time to read my photography magazines (that's photography, not pornography), to watch TV, to read blogs, & to write in my blog. If finishing this book was important enough to me then I would have found the time.

The truth of the matter is, the book just isn't enthralling me that much. I wouldn't go so far as to recommend against reading it. It's an OK book, just not a great book. I did much better than my wife. Before I bought it, I had reserved it at our local library. After purchasing it, the library called to say the book was in. So, my wife decided to go ahead and check it out to read with me. But, she only made it to page 20 before she lost total interest in the book. To be fair, it's not the type of book she normally reads (she prefers historical novels).

First of all, let me point out that I enjoy reading SciFi/Fantasy books, so that isn't the reason I haven't gotten into it as much as I wanted to. Second, while I loved the Lord of the Rings movies, I don't think J.R.R. Tolkien was that great of a writer either. I found his books to be dry in places and parts were almost a drugery to read (I never could finish "The Silmarillion"). So, Susanna Clarke is in good company

One thing I particularly didn't like about the book was the numerous footnotes with made up references. I found these to be annoying. It felt as though the author had other things she wanted to include, but couldn't figure out how to work it into the story line, so she put them in as footnotes.

Although the book is long, much of it seems like fluff. The same story could have been told in a more concise form (without losing anything). I'm not saying a 1,000 page book could be condensed into a 50 page short story. But, surely all that needed to be said could have been written in 500-700 pages.

I still plan on finishing the book. And, maybe, my opinion will change at that time. But, for now, my review can be summed up as
It's OK.

BTW, I'm still new to this. Am I supposed to put a gay twist into my review? I don't think Jonathan Strange was gay. Mr. Norrell, on the other hand ... (just kidding, or am I?)


-L- said...

No gay twist necessary (even though I usually mention a few). In fact, the MoHo book club was initially started after a discussion of not focusing all our attention on gay issues.

I'm glad you wrote something, even if you haven't finished the book. I think I liked it quite a bit more than you, but I agree that it's not my typical style. I don't know who all the people were who voted for this. Please step forward and identify yourselves! ;-)

Anyway, thanks for participating.

Mormon Enigma said...

Speaking for myself (because I'm one of the ones who voted for it). I didn't particularly want to read any of the other selections. So, I wasn't voting *for* it - I was voting *against* the other selections.

Of course, you are probably thinking "well, then suggest something you do want to read." The books I typically read are more how-to books (how to use photoshop, how to build a deck, etc.) - not the typical things a book club would read.

I'm hoping to expand my horizons with this book club. And I have! I watched (and even enjoyed) a movie that I probably would have never watched otherwise. I'm reading a book that I probably would never read on my own. Just because I don't think it's a great book doesn't mean that I regret reading it. I just don't have any ideas for other books the club might want to read. But, if I ever do think of any ...

Anonymous said...

u should check this out
u could identify

Mormon Enigma said...

u should check this out
u could identify

Thank you. Yes, I do relate.

Are you "The Valar wonders"? If so, I would like to know more about you. You can send me a private email if preferred.

Beck said...

I'm still struggling with how you have time to read a 1,000 page book in the first place? With your work, your family, your Church callings, and life - I'm impressed you got through 70% of it!

Isn't that why they invented Cliff notes? Or don't they have those anymore?