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Saturday 19 December 2009

You'll love it!

That’s exactly what she said when she handed me the latest novel due to hit the shelves of bookshops everywhere: "You'll just love it, it's fantastic!" I took the advance reading copy home and tried to wait until the weekend before getting stuck in. But no, delayed gratification doesn't work for me when it comes to books. Dinner over, cat fed, plants watered, feet up, book out: I got stuck in straight away and gave it my total concentration as I took in the setting, got to know the characters, mentally visualised the plot as it proceeded to unfold. No one could say I didn't give it time. I read to page 112 before coming to my senses. It was a load of baloney dressed up in a fancy jacket with superlatives dancing across the front and back exclaiming in loud and flamboyant language all kinds of precious nonsense in the full expectation of huge sales. Well, I won't be recommending it to anyone but I may have to tell a white lie, even use a mental reservation (that's the most fashionable equivalent of not telling the whole truth) to ensure that I don't cut off my supply of advance reading copies.

No fanfare greeted the arrival of The Journey Home by Olaf Olafsson as it landed on my desk via a mistake somewhere down the line. Its quiet cover promised nothing but neither did it offend; the back had three simple reviews from Time Out, The Irish Times and my favourite, The Times. "Disa is exquisitely well portrayed. The picture of her frustrations, regrets and achievements is subtly built up and the revelations about her life are carefully structured to maintain surprise. A quiet and beautiful novel."

Then I read about the author who was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1962 and now resides in New York. He studied physics and became Executive Vice President of Time Warner. I wasn't sure I had read anything written by an Icelandic author, and this definitely sounded interesting so my curiosity got the better of me and I took the plunge.

Three days later I set The Journey Home down with huge regret. Regret that I had reached the end, regret that I would have to leave Disa and her family, but also delight in having discovered a beautifully written novel that seems to have passed under the radar.

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Blogger spacedlaw said...

That sounds interesting!

And speaking of good books, have you read Barbara Kingsolver's latest (The Lacuna)? Perfect treat.

December 19, 2009 10:31 AM  
Blogger louisa said...

Haven't done The Lacuna yet though I loved Poisonwood Bible and her essays too. Next on my list is either Paul Auster's Invisible or William Boyd's Ordinary Thunderstorms, can't decide which. Also just had a glowing recommendation from a customer for Linda Olsson's Sonata for Miriam, too many books!

December 19, 2009 11:02 AM  

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