5 journalers for this copy...
I only found out recently that John Banville wrote crime fiction under a pseudonym and I'm definitely looking forward to reading this novel.
On its way to bestfriends now. Enjoy! :-)
First JE since everything seems to have changed on the BC Beta site. It sure needs getting used to, to say the least.
Thanks sintra for fulfilling a wish (from a wishlist that meanwhile has almost completely disappeared from my shelf). Looking forward to read this. If I can't 'pay it back', I promise to pay it 'forward' ;-)
In the beginning I thought I would indeed like it. Sorry to say, that now that I have finished reading, I was really disappointed. Mysteries, thrillers and crime novels are amongst my favourite genres so I have read quite a few, but I think it's being underestimated how difficult it is to write a really good crime story!
I got the impression John Banville/Benjamin Black certainly has. This novel really lacks suspense, a gripping plot and interesting characters. Could be because this novel is set in the 1950s, but nevertheless: I found the hero, pathologist Quirke (Gosh even that name started to irritate me in the end!), cliché and boring.
The cover says: 'Superb.... the final outcome is almost unbearably moving'.
Well, I did not find it all that superb nor moving.
On a bright site: I would probably never have had a chance to read this without BC and sintra's generosity. I'm grateful for both and will see to it that the book finds a new reader somehow, someday, who hopefully will appreciate it more than I did! Thanks again!
15th June 2010 update:
Reserved to be send to bookguide in Holland, who will give it to ICON/Foreign Exchange
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
This is set in the past (1950s) in Dublin and there's a strong undercurrent of the complicity of the Roman Catholic church in temporarily caring for pregnant women, taking advantage of their situation, then spiriting off their babies for adoption elsewhere. All very reminiscent of the recent revelations about the Magdalene Laundries - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4352372/Haunting-images-everyday-life-Magdalene-Laundries.html
“Time is the opposite of space [...] In space, everything gets more blurred the further away you get. With time it’s different, everything becomes clear.” (p.348)
Christine Falls has a strong sense of place, set in 1950s Dublin. There are frequent descriptions of streets and landmarks. There is disapproval when Quirke takes his niece into a hotel tearoom and then a pub as the age difference is so great; people assume she’s his girlfriend, or at least, he assumes they do.
The Irish accent and turn of phrase also shines through, with phrases like “would you ever go and fetch this thirsty man a drink?” (p.42)
“Mr Quirke! [...] Is it yourself?” (p.97)
The book mentions a bombing carried out by the IRA, “I was with the squad that set off them firecrackers n Coventry in ‘thirty-nine,” says a drunk man in a bar. This was just a few days before the outbreak of the Second World War, so the bombing is largely forgotten. In fact, there was no memorial until 2015. The character in the pub claims he was sent to prison for three years.
Just a comment on one particular word, po-faced (p.97), as I believe it was used in an unusual way in this book. I haven’t heard the expression in a while, so it stood out. I’ve always understood it to mean a blank expression of someone pointedly not laughing at a joke, refusing to join in the silliness or ribaldry. Not a poker face, remaining expressionless to conceal reactions. More stoney faced. The OED understands it slightly differently as the sort of expression you’d make if you saw something distasteful as if you’d been presented with a used chamber pot (a po). Not the same expression at all. For me, po-faced is the woman’s expression on American Pastoral. World Wide Words www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-pof1.htm is obviously the source for the Wikipedia entry, but I’m not convinced. A later language authority, Ben Yagoda is American, so the word is a foreign Britishism for him and he remains slightly perplexed, saying ‘it needs more research’. He even found a reference to it in an obscure American novel, but it’s unlikely that comes from the same source.
https://britishisms. pofaced .com/2013/01/24/po-faced/
I would definitely recommend this book and was delighted to find another in the series at the meeting in Castricum where I released this.
This book has been released as part of the following BookCrossing challenges:
- The Ultimate Challenge - read and release books, with extra points for a monthly theme
- Reduce Mount TBR (To Be Read) - read and release books on the TBR list since before the end of 2014. My reading goal is 36 books.