Busy week with back to school and excruciatingly hot weather and un-air conditioned building, but I did finish these three
I picked up Black Dogs at a used book store and was happy to find an Ian McEwan book there. Obviously very well written although transparent in places, this is not my favorite of his, but it was still very good. This is an outsider’s, if you consider a son-in-law as an outsider, view of a marriage enmeshed in philosophical differences. Jeremy is Bernard and June’s son-in-law and he appears more concerned with and interested in them, particularly June, than their biological children. Jeremy has been searching for replacement parental figures ever since losing his at a young age. He undertakes writing June’s memoirs in an effort to understand her and what went wrong with her marriage.
The characterization of June and Bernard as idea driven people provided a great counterpoint to Jeremy as a relationship driven person. Jeremy had been through one of the most traumatic events that a young person can face, loss of parents and then chronic instability. He then revisited this event on his sister’s child in an act of self-preservation. June and Bernard had their illusions and ideas shattered and it seemed to impact them almost as severely. It is interesting that I found it easy to feel sympathy for and root for Jeremy, but I really didn’t connect with Bernard and June. Good short read, however I prefered On Chesil Beach to this.
I read the novella The Vanishing by Tim Krabbe at the insistence of my daughter. She is a big novella fan, while I am not so much one. This book has been made into a couple of movies, one American and I think the other was French. It follows a young couple on a vacation in France. They stop to refuel and when Saskia goes into the store she never comes out again. She simply vanishes. Rex becomes obsessed with discovering what fate has befallen Saskia. For years Rex searches and posts notices up hoping for a clue, a witness, anything. Rex’s hunt draws the attention of the one person who knows what happened to Saskia. This book presents to me such a terrifying ordeal. I have often said that it would be worse to lose someone by having them just disappear than to murder. I can clearly see how the not knowing would drive anyone mad. Well done and with really the only logical conclusion.
Original Sin by P.D. James is book 9 in the Adam Dalgliesh series. This mystery involves an old-established publishing firm housed in a building more suitable for a museum called non-ironically Innocent House. The firm seems to be facing more than its fair share of death and mischievous pranks. Are the deaths and the pranks connected? Are the suicides really suicides? Are the deaths even connected to one another? There is a complicated cast of characters each with their own desperate tales, loss of a family during the war, unrequited love, desire to prove himself to a war hero father, fear of impending old age and decline into nothingness, and fear of loss of job, status, ability to meet one’s obligations. Gerard Etienne is not the most likeable character, but it is his death that draws Dalgleish and his team into the affairs of Innocent House. The publishing firm and the house itself given a well-defined sense of place rife with nostalgia, family and secrets.
A great mystery, with twists and turns, connections to the past to understand the present, and a tragic ending. I can’t wait to read the next in the series!