May 13, 2005

Two more books

My travel-reading was supposed to consist of The Time-Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and Small Island by Andrea Levy, but I was 20 pages short of the end of TTTW by the time I had to leave for the airport, and I wasn’t prepared to carry a book that size for ten minutes worth of reading, so I left it until I came back.
The reviews that I’ve read all say that the first few pages are a struggle, while getting to grip with this particular concept of time travel; and I would agree that it is well worth the effort. This book is astoundingly original, at least to someone who doesn’t read much sci-fi, like me. Indeed, this is the acceptable face of sci-fi. Even so, the context of a love story makes it different – exploring all the clever little details like the idea that he loses all his fillings every time he dematerialises. I was also pleased with the idea that it had a genetic basis, akin to epilepsy, and was triggered by stress and strobe lights; and the sound philosophical concept that you can’t change the future, but can still exercise free will in the present.
And how nice to read a book where even the bad guys are likeable, and the hero is both tragically flawed and irresistably delicious; this was my first fictional crush in a long, long time. The final quarter of the book is utterly heart-breaking; how can you not cry?
Small Island started dull, possibly because I was comparing it to the unfinished TTTW, and because I was crammed into an uncomfortable cattle class aircraft seat at the time. I was at least a third of the way through before I started to care about the characters or get interested in the story. The final third compensated – that’s where all the juicy bits are.
The story is told from the different points of view of the four main characters, which keeps it fresh; but on the whole I am surprised that this novel has so many accolades – it just didn’t strike me.


1 thought on “Two more books

  1. you terrible person, I was about to give up on Small Island and pass it on to whoever fancied reading it (only on 3rd chapter and already bored), now i feel i have to try and finish it because the last third my be worth the bother…

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