Quick Review: The Bone Clocks, Mãn & The Marriage Plot

I’ve not the energy or enthusiasm for a long review, so here are some thoughts on some books I’ve read recently.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Well constructed, vivid imagery and fairly gripping. The Bone Clocks didn’t cling to me as Cloud Atlas did, but Mitchell has knitted a very interesting history here. The fantasy element was not my cup of tea, I prefer my fantastical elements to be more subtle, but this is not a criticism of the novel. Only negative I had was that it read more as a children’s novel than the adult novel I expected, I’m not entirely sure why.

Mãn by Kim Thúy

Mãn is literature in translation. It will sneak up on you, it seems as though it is a small and simple piece of literature, but it’s feeling reverberates for days after. It packs a powerful punch for such a tiny piece. From birth to adulthood, we travel with Mãn as she is pulled from fields as a baby, marries, moves to Canada, becomes a famous chef and learns the emotional depths she can reach.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Eugenides has wowed me with The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, books that make you think. The Marriage Plot isn’t a bad book, it is especially good if you are a bit of a book snob. However, the pretentious element of the novel is difficult to escape. While Eugenides again attempts to tackle the impact of depression on the young I found the characters too self-aware – or perhaps to arrogant – to be of sympathy. Not liking characters is a sign of a good book and although I enjoyed it I don’t think it is as good as his previous novels. Beautiful writing, less than perfect story.

What have you read recently?

12 thoughts on “Quick Review: The Bone Clocks, Mãn & The Marriage Plot

  1. I’ve been a little hesitant to read The Bone Clocks, both because I loved Cloud Atlas and because of the mixed reviews I’ve read. I think I’m going to let the hype die down a bit and then pick it up a little later.

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  2. I didn’t really enjoy The Virgin Suicides, but I might give Eugenides another chance with Middlesex (which I know I have somewhere in my giant TBR pile). I’m currently reading The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane. It’s not very long and quite a relaxed read, enjoying it so far.

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      1. It’s a mystery novel that follows the story of Ruth, an elderly widow who lives by the sea in Australia. I’ve not yet come to the mystery part, but I’m especially liking the bits of magical realism weaved into the story, which could also be interpreted as Ruth’s mind slowly going due to age.

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  3. Middlesex is so good that I think The Marriage Plot was always going to have to be really excellent to stand up to it. I read it when it first came out and remember thinking at the time that if anyone else had written it I would probably have thought it a better novel than I did.

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    1. This is very true, it would be hard to beat Middlesex. And I’m probably judging it a little too much on Middlesex and Virgin Suicides. Like you I probably would have rated the story better were it another author, I still think I would have found substance lacking though.

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  4. I read the KJ Parker novella Blue and Gold last night and liked it buuuut maybe not as much as I was hoping to. Her other novella Purple and Black, which was my introduction to her as an author, really GOT me, and I think I was expecting Blue and Gold to be at that same level.

    You know, I saw the author photo on the jacket of The Marriage Plot and was just like “no thanks bro”. And nothing anybody has said about it since then has made me feel I’m missing out on anything.

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  5. I loved The Marriage Plot, but that’s probably because it’s close to the bone for me. I can relate so well to Leonard and the things that happened to his character nearly broke my heart. I was also a Lit major at university, so all the literary stuff was a walk down memory lane for me. 🙂

    I read The Night Guest a while ago and was fairly disappointed with it. A lot of people do like it, though.

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    1. Leonard was one of the characters I that scared me, not because he was scary while ill or because his illness made him scary, but because it made me wonder how I would cope if I were one of his friends or family. Would I have been able to help him, would I have been tolerant. I think in that sense The Marriage Plot was a good book as it highlighted where I may be failing or ignorant should I ever be in a that position.

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