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Friday, 12 June 2009

Book comparison

Like many people who read a lot of books I always have more than one on the go at once. Currently I'm reading Kate Jacobs' Knit Two - American chick lit - A S Byatt's The Children's Book and John Mortimer's The First Rumpole Omnibus. A pretty mixed bag really.

I have completely lost patience with Knit Two. . I've read two others by Kate Jacobs - The Friday Night Knitting Club and Comfort Food. Knit Two is a sequel to Friday Night Knitting Club which ended in tragedy with the main character's death. I found it a bit too touchy feely for me - especially towards the end though Comfort Food was good. I had thought without the main character the sequel might be less so. But it isn't. It reads as though the author wrote it because she wanted to cash in on the popularity of its predecessor.

There is no real plot and everyone obsesses about the perceived imperfections of their apparently perfect lives. What's more they seem to be stagnating and wishing their friend was still with them - 5 years after her death. It didn't read quite right to me. I know it's meant to be celebrating friendship and I'm all for it but everyone seemed to be wallowing. There was one section about two thirds through the book which was a lot better where several characters go to Italy for a holiday combined with work.

Has my reading of this been tarnished by comparison with A S Byatt? I don't know, but I wonder whether it could have been though Rumpole has not suffered at all and I still love those stories. In The Children's Book she is at her complex, many layered and understated best. The book opens with a group of slightly Bohemian families. The adults seem to have strong friendships and relationships with their children who are all growing up in ideal circumstances. Gradually flaws in this ideal existence are revealed and all is not as it seems. The story starts in the early 1890s and finishes just after the end of World War I. It really deserves a post on its own so I will save a full review of it until tomorrow as I have almost finished it - all 600 pages of it!

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