Review – Bridget Jones’s Baby by Helen Fielding

Hi,

One week before the movie Bridget Jones’s Baby was released in Austrian theaters, Helen Fielding’s book was published and so I had enough time to read it in yet another LovelyBooks reading group.

Bridget Jones's Baby
Image provided by Jonathan Cape¹

Bridget Jones has once again gotten herself into a love triangle with Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver and to her surprise, she soon finds out she’s pregnant. There is only one problem: she doesn’t know who the father is.

Bridget Jones’s Baby is set between Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. The novel starts out five years after Bridget and Mark have broken up over a misunderstanding.

Bridget and her friends are around forty and still I got the feeling that the characters haven’t matured at all. Bridget’s friends haven’t stopped drinking and partying, Daniel is acting like a child, Mark lacks empathy and Bridget is naive and hasn’t learned one bit from her past mistakes.

Nevertheless, with about 200 pages, Bridget Jones’s Baby is a quick and entertaining read. I laughed here and there, but I didn’t find the story overly funny. What bothered me was that the ending felt very rushed. It didn’t fit the overall pacing of the book. There is lots of drama up until a certain point and then the story is quickly wrapped up like nothing ever happened. Overall, reading the book was a nice diversion and I liked the idea behind Bridget Jones’s Baby, but I would have wished for it to be better executed.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1113499/bridget-jones-s-baby/9781911214564/
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Advertisements

Review – Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Hi,

Long time no see! Five weeks ago, I had nose surgery and I might even do a little blog post about what it was like. I almost look the same and I can already breathe so much better now!
In those five weeks, I participated in another LovelyBooks reading group. This time, we read Ian McEwan’s latest novel Nutshell.

Nutshell
Image provided by Jonathan Cape¹

His home is his mother Trudy’s womb and he has already been in here for about nine months. It is at this point in his life when he notices his mother and her lover Claude making plans to murder someone and his options to interfere are very limited.

Nutshell is told from the perspective of an unborn boy. This young tot spends his time listening. He listens to conversations going on around him and he listens to podcast lectures, self-improving audio books and the BBC World Service. This is why he has an impressive word range that would put most grown-ups to shame. The way he expresses himself, however, isn’t very authentic. To me, this isn’t the voice of an educated unborn, it is the voice of an educated, adult narrator – the voice of Ian McEwan.

The plot of Nutshell is inspired by Hamlet and the plot structure reminds me of Freytag’s Pyramid with exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. That does, however, depend on what you think the climax is. In my opinion, it is an outstanding monologue by the baby boy’s father John. After this climax, the plot just takes its course and there isn’t much suspense.

Since I read The Children Act two years ago, I have to say that I think Ian McEwan could have done a better job with Nutshell. Don’t get me wrong, this novel reads well and is written in brilliant prose, but there has to be a way to find an authentic voice for our little baby boy that doesn’t sound like the author himself.
Nevertheless, I’m glad I read Nutshell. This way I had the chance to read this wonderful monologue I was talking about earlier. So if you’re curious about life from the perspective of an unborn infant and a very special monologue, you might as well start reading now.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1112686/nutshell/9781911214335/
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Review – The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

Hello,

I found time to write another review. I survived Christmas, my 30th birthday, and New Years Eve, found a new hobby to add to my ever-growing list (I finally treated myself to a new sewing machine) and my thesis is still in the works. I never stopped reading though (you probably know that if you follow me on Goodreads or LovelyBooks) and so I read Julian Barnes‘ latest novel The Noise of Time.

The Noise of Time
Image linked from Jonathan Cape¹

Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich, a Soviet composer, cannot escape Power in his country. No matter what he does, his life and his music are influenced by the government and he can’t seem to live life as a free man.

The Noise of Time is far from an easy read. If you aren’t familiar with Shostakovich, you might get the feeling of being abandoned in a maze. The novelization of Shostakovich’s life is not written in chronological order. A third-person narrator tells the reader what’s going on, he isn’t showing them and that creates a great distance between the plot and the reader. This, plus the fact that there is very little dialogue, makes reading The Noise of Time a slow process that requires concentration.

When I started the book, I had no idea what it was about. The official blurb doesn’t give away much and so I felt lost until I reached the second half of the novel. This is where I was finally able to sum up what I had read so far. If I had known that The Noise of Time was a fictional account of a composer’s life, things might have been different.

Julian Barnes’ novel has the air of a non-fiction book. Even though he writes about Shostakovich’s emotions, the reader is too distanced to feel them. The composer is long gone and so are his thoughts and his feelings. The Noise of Time might not be for everyone, but if you are interested in Shostakovich’s life and don’t shy Barnes’ narrative technique you should give it a shot.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1110913/the-noise-of-time/
² A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Review – The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Hello,

Before I’m off to Frankfurt Book Fair, I’d like to share another review. Thanks to Penguin Random House UK I had the pleasure of reading Ian McEwan’s latest novel The Children Act in a LovelyBooks reader’s circle.

The Children Act
Image provided by Jonathan Cape¹
Synopsis quoted from Jonathan Cape¹:

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.

At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.

My Thoughts:

The Children Act is set in contemporary England and from the very first page, Ian McEwan draws you into Fiona Maye’s world with detailed descriptions of her surroundings.

Fiona is an introvert High Court judge approaching sixty who has been living by the rules for all her life. She has problems showing her feelings and in consequence her marriage suffers. When Fiona meets Adam, a young man suffering from leukaemia, her world starts spinning. Adam, who is almost 18, is very different from Fiona. He is overly self-confident, poetry-writing know-it-all and he is determined to live his short life to the fullest – finally, a teenager acting like a teenager.

The Children Act is built around a theme that some might be bored by and it is written in beautiful, refined prose that can be hard to understand for those who aren’t advanced speakers of English. But please don’t be put off by the complex language and the law theme, as McEwan manages to give you insight into a world unknown to most of us, and while I was sceptical at first, this book kept me glued to the pages. So go on and read this riveting novel about life and the choices you make.

4beans

¹ http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/the-childrens-act/9780224101998

Review – The Quick by Lauren Owen

Hello,

I’ve been very excited for Lauren Owen’s The Quick to be out since I’ve first heard about it. Naturally, I had to get it as soon as it hit the stores. You probably heard that the novel holds a plot twist that should remain secret under all circumstances. For me, this plot twist was spoiled by comparisons of The Quick to other novels. If something similar happened (or happens) to you, I can still recommend reading this novel, as the plot twist isn’t what should make you read it in the first place. 😉

The Quick
Image provided by Random House UK¹
Synopsis quoted from Random House UK¹:

You are about to discover the secrets of The Quick

But first you must travel to Victorian Yorkshire, and there, on a remote country estate, meet a brother and sister alone in the world and bound by tragedy. In time, you will enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of some of the richest, most powerful men in fin-de-siecle England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.

It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, one of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.

My Thoughts:

In The Quick, Lauren Owen takes us to 19th century England. I particularly like the different moods she creates. The Norburys’ childhood home in Yorkshire has a fairytale-esque touch to it. It’s like seen through a crystal globe. London on the other hand, has its bright and glamorous and its dark, mysterious sides that will become very clear to you.

James and Charlotte Norbury are the main characters of this Gothic novel. James is a well-read young man, but I find Charlotte more interesting than him. Her sweet and caring character develops into a strong-minded and brave woman without losing her original traits.

The Quick is divided in five parts. Each part has its strengths and weaknesses. My favorite part is “Part One”. Something is revealed in this part and could be rather shocking for some of you. What Ms Owen does here is genius. (This isn’t the plot twist I was talking about above). The novel slows down in “Part Two” and only starts to pick up speed during “Part Three” again. Fortunately, the last two parts make up for the dragging middle of the novel. The Quick finishes with an exciting, emotional and fast-paced story. But still, Ms Owen leaves us with some loose ends. One of them is very obvious and I don’t mind it at all, because it’s a good stylistic device. But there is another one concerning a secondary character who did something and whose fate is left unmentioned. It seems like he was forgotten about.

I recommend The Quick to fans of beeep who like to read beeep. Well this doesn’t work. You shouldn’t be thin-skinned for this novel, but don’t be afraid, even someone as easily scared as I am was able to read it. The Quick isn’t a thriller, it isn’t romance either. The Quick is a good novel.

4beans

¹ http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/the-quick/9780224096386