The first line of a novel should really draw you in and the opening of this book “Anna was a good wife, mostly” had me from the beginning. The writing style felt a little disjointed at first, as if the author wasn’t a native english speaker, or maybe this is intended as it helps the forward momentum. (The story is told through the eyes of an American woman living in Switzerland and part of her lack of belonging is down to her poor german language skills).
I first read this Ian McEwan book (The Comfort of Strangers) a few years ago and I loved it so much that I wanted to re-read it. Now that I have, I’ve learnt a valuable lesson; you can’t re-read a suspense novel and get the same awful sense of foreboding that I remember having the first time around. I could, however, still appreciate the writing and how he manages to vividly capture familiar sensations: the carefree way you feel on holiday and how that changes your decisions, particularly when you meet new people; and the way couples communicate with each other after years in relationships. It really is a masterclass in writing a suspense novel and it was this book that set me off on an Ian McEwan extravaganza – Atonement, Saturday, On Chesil Beach, Solar, Enduring Love – and made me appreciate what a great author he is. It’s an unsettling book but I just wish I could have felt as scared the second time around…
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It seems you can’t miss Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel at the moment; in my Mum’s local book store in England, she must be the envy of any author everywhere as the whole window is full of the things, but unlike many of the much-hyped books that I’ve read lately, this more than lives up to expectation.
My rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
I bought this at a promotional price for 99 cents because I’d read a few articles about how great it was and was very excited to get such a bargain. I started it almost immediately but I couldn’t get past the first paragraph on the first two tries. It was only when I decided to clear my bookshelf of all my “crud” and forced myself to plough on through that I discovered that I actually quite liked it. That said, I can’t give anything more than 3 stars if it took me nearly 3 months and a twist of the arm to read it.