Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fooled Again

Maybe I should say seduced again.
     When I first started reading Great House by Nikki Giovani, I was excited to have found a literary novel that I was sure I would love. And it has everything there is to love in a literary novel: beautiful writing, great use of language, fascinating characters, interesting scenes. It wasn't until I got to the last few pages that I realized it also had the one thing I hate about literary novels: no plot. Or at least no conclusion.
     The book was intriguing in that it had four interconnecting stories - or seemed to; in the end I realized one had no connection whatever to the others - that revolved around a piece of furniture and it's history with the people that had owned it. I was riveted, wondering these characters and their vastly different lives would be tied together. And they weren't. The "stories" didn't even have endings, just kind of wandered off or stopped abruptly.
    My reaction to this leaves me thinking, as literary novels always do, that I'm just not smart enough to "get it", or not literate, creative, or educated enough to appreciate it. And I did appreciate all the lovely facets of it, just not the feeling that there was no ending. It's very much like not finishing a book you started reading, something all dedicated readers are uncomfortable with to some degree.
     Doesn't the definition of novel say it has a beginning, middle and end? I just feel cheated when a book has no end. I'm also a little jealous that I can't write well enough to be able to write a story that people love even though it is missing something that should be essential to all novels.
    I do highly recommend this book to fans of literary works. If you are not troubled by a lack of closure at the end - and I recognize the possibility that the story is perfectly well concluded and that I just don't see it - there is everything to love about Great House.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


This is the fourth offering of the Dick Francis/Felix Francis writing duo. As I've said in other posts, after reading the first collaboration I was hopeful; it was not nearly the caliber of Dick Francis other novels, but not bad. The next two were very disappointing. I happened to read Gamble - number five - next and was pleased to find that some of Dick's amazing talent was, as I hoped, emerging in Felix.
    So I went back and read the fourth novel, Crossfire, and was again let down...until half-way through the book. Then the story and main character both got more interesting and from that point the novel resembled Dick Francis' style.
   I know it is not fair to compare Felix's writing to his dad's. If I were him, I would want my own style - it's never fun to be constantly measured against another who was amazing at their craft.  I do want Felix to excel at his own writing and I want to love it.
   Crossfire, at least the first half, still shows some amateur writing gaffes that drive me crazy. One example (not a direct quote): "'I can't believe it!' I exclaimed. I was astonished." Really?
    While I can't recommend Silks or Even Money, I think mystery readers and Francis fans would like Dead Heat, Crossfire and Gamble. I am glad to have enjoyed these last two and I am looking forward to the next one.