Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Girl in a Blue Dress - Gaynor Arnold

  • They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover - but I think its important to like something you are going to hold in your hands for a few days. And I don’t like this, the blue is too blue, that silver ‘nomination declaration’ looks tacky and was clearly added at the last minute and the paper quality is quite poor, it almost feels a bit vanity press. I know that Tindal Street is a small independent publisher but I don’t recall that What Was Lost from last year looked this bad.
  • I thought the parts about the public grief and mourning and mass funeral of Alfred Gibson were quite interesting as they seemed very current with the ways the public has claimed a share of private grief and the nature of celebrity.
  • There was a dated feel to the prose. I wonder if this is inevitable or intentional? either way I didn’t really like it. If I wanted to read a Dickensian novel I would read Dickens. Which brings me to another gripe about this - I think that fictionalised accounts of real people can be great novels - but I would prefer it to be one thing or the other - call him Dickens if he is meant to be Dickens, not something else but acknowledging at the end that its mostly Dickens. It just seems slightly lacking in balls to go all the way.
  • I liked the focus on the woman behind the great man. The pull of the family versus the spouse versus the public. The sacrifices that are made in the name of art. And questions about how good liberated thinking really is. How possible is it to commit to one when you are loved by many?
  • Another novel that seems to be an individuals account of their life, through time, writing wrongs and seeking understanding and forgiveness.
  • Collected quote - ‘I have to confess to a certain mute rebellion as I poured half the tea away in the potted ferns, and gave the biscuits to the dog or, when the dog refused, threw them on the fire, where they burned with a resentful glow.’
  • Just an ok read - rather longwinded, with lots of quite repetitive dialogue and nothing very striking. It read a quite a thorough piece of research, with a little speculation thrown in, but fell rather flat in the telling, which was rather disappointing seeing as it was about a key literary figure. 5 out of 10 cups of tea

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