I have finally finished this book and while I love to read I find myself somewhat frustrated by it. It started with some kind of Gabriel Garcia Marquez magic and became a linear story that invested time in creating charcters and yet ultimately left them hanging while it tried to get itself to then ending that it had already signposted. However, I think it is very easy to use strong words to convey an opionion on a book and maybe it is better to speak with a softer voice.
This novel is unapolegetically episodic and is written strongly enough to propel the narrative to a conclusion. It is an enjoyable read. It would be a good holiday read. However it's problem is that it seems to be punching above it's weight as a piece of literature. It creates fantastical situations but does not invest time in making them wonderful. It is as if it is somehow a better book in a hurry. It seemed impatient to get to it's ending. Or was that me? If I can give an example, the Sommer's house in Chile seemed like a checklist of a fantastical south american house: English spinster with mysterious past - check. Indian cook whose cooking is amazing - check. Lead character who cannot be tamed - check. This kind of writing by numbers unfortunately comes off as sloppy when compared to the giants of the genre. The images it conjoured in my mind are stock hollywood cliches, which while revelaing a lot about my mind makes me realise that this book feels like it was written with a screenplay adaptation in mind that would create and oscar winning epic. That is perhaps a bad thing to wrtie about a book that entertained me. I should say that I never regret reading a book, however much it may annoy/challenge me (take a bow Gao Xingjian's Soul Mountain) and this is no exception. However I am not drawn to read another one of her books on this experience.
My next read was a recommendation from a friend and I am very curious to see what it brings. I have in turn recommened Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera. We are going to see the movie adaptation of the book on Thursday night and I am worried. I fear that it will be bad enough to destroy my friend's temptation to read the book. I am, definately, fearing the worst.