Monday, December 03, 2007

Two Books, One Author - Maggie O'Farrell

I haven't read too much in the last few weeks. I started a novel, and for some reason I just can't get into it. I'd been really excited about starting it, too. I'm not sure what's going on. I wanted to finish this book before I started anything else but that plan has already backfired twice; still, it's slowing me down.

The first book that made me decide I could read two books at once was The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. It had been recommended to me from Barnes and Noble, and the story description was enough to pique my interest. The novel was well-written, and O'Farrell played around with the chronology very well, giving hints to an old secret that more or less motivated all the events thereafter while waiting to completely reveal it. Of course, I've read enough where I kind of knew where it was going, though I was slightly wrong about the order of some things. The characters were still pretty interesting, she didn't tie everything up nicely in the end, especially concerning Iris, one of the three main characters. One of the other characters has Alzheimer's so when things are written from her point of view, they are more fragmented than with the other two women. That part was slightly reminiscent of the beginning of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury for me since it, too, jumps around quite a bit. Vanishing Act is much less difficult, however, because while fragmented, it is still seen through a grown woman's eyes rather than a man whose mental abilities are equivalent to those of a young child. The actual plot itself wasn't anything incredibly new but the presentation worked well.

Still, I wasn't sure if I'd actually go run out and read another novel by O'Farrell but as it turned out, I had ordered one - I think when I ordered the first one, Amazon did the whole "other people who ordered that ordered this" thing, and when I clicked on the link, the other novel sounded like it had possibilities as well as good reviews. I don't think I even noticed it was the same author. Anyway, I started that one yesterday and finished it today (I don't know why I can't finish the other book!) After You'd Gone also went back and forth in time a lot like her other novel (and the book I can't finish, for that matter). I actually liked it much more than The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. It was very powerful. The novel begins with Alice's suicide attempt, and then retraces different parts of her life through her perspective, and her family's perspective. Some secrets are revealed in the process as it shows what could cause a strong, temperamental person to despair enough to step in front of traffic.

And now back to that other book. I will finish it eventually; even if A Moveable Feast is looking very tempting right now. Not to mention the 2nd and 3rd seasons of Six Feet Under. I guess that was another issue - I've also watched Heroes and the 1st season of Six Feet Under in the last few weeks instead of reading.

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