Sunday, March 18, 2007

Brother of the More Famous Jack

I’m not sure how you pronounce Barbara Trapido’s surname – I tend to go for something that rhymes with torpedo, but it could easily be Tra-pido, with the emphasis on the first syllable.
Whatever, I’ve not long finished her book, Brother of the More Famous Jack, which a friend enthused about some while ago, and wanted an extra copy of when I worked in partnership with a secondhand bookshop. We found her a copy, and later I found another, which on the strength of her enthusiasm, I bought for myself.
I read the first page or two and put it aside, not feeling particularly enthused by it myself, as is so often the case when someone else’s enthusiasms don’t seem to match your own. And then just a few days ago I picked it up off the shelves and started to read it. Seemed like a different book from the one I remembered starting previously, so that was good. And it is a good book, in the sense that the writing is stylish, and full of detail, and the characters are vivid and wonderfully-drawn, even down to the minor ones.
It turns out there’s virtually no story; apart from it being about a young woman finding her feet in the world after some rather troubling relationships, and then discovering that the brother she hadn’t thought much of in the past is the one who cares utterly about her, and whom she finally marries. That’s it. No great dramas, no plot in the accepted sense of the word, just plain storytelling about interesting people, from the first person perspective of a young woman who we’re never quite sure we know as well as she wants us to think we know her.
It did niggle me a little that nothing ‘happened.’ Something dramatic towards the end would have been a bit more satisfying. But that’s what it’s like and you just have to accept it!
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