Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The German Boy

I'm getting towards the end of a long saga - I'd guess you'd call it - called The German Boy, written by Patricia Wastvedt, who has only written one other (quite well received) novel, as far as I know.

The lady can certainly write; she's very stylish, particularly in descriptive terms as regards nature, city streets and places, smells, light and so on.   She's also quite sharp in the way she writes about the criss-crossing of people's emotions and reactions.

But I've felt the book to be quite manipulative - I don't like the way she allows her characters to lie in various places in such a way as to make you think something's happened that hasn't.   It's a bit like the author herself lying.

And beyond that it's irredeemably drear; it's almost as if she wants to make the reader feel as miserable as possible.   Certainly a couple of the characters bring their disasters on themselves; but others are left floundering time and again, until you want to say for goodness' sake, you're the author - do something about the mess you've created!

It's the kind of book you enjoy because you think something will improve; only it never does.   And then that annoys.   I'm too much of a positive person when it comes to stories - if they can't end well, at least in some measure, then I go off them, rapidly, and no amount of telling me that the artistry is above reproach can bring me back to liking the thing completely - even though I may like it partially.  

Incidentally, for those who might like to read this book, in spite of my comments, the German boy of the title appears in the first chapter and vanishes almost completely after that.  He's a kind of catalyst.   Perhaps he'll turn up again before the book closes.

A later addition: a more complete review of the book is now here.

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