Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Muddy river of a plot, but stunning prose.
on 18 October 2013
This book is extremely well-written. Roy has an astonishing talent for metaphor, simile and characterisation. It is a book worth reading and a deeply thoughtful and poignant and poetic meditation on tragedy and the nature of man and man's cruelty, which runs alongside the actual story like the river. One major criticism, and it has been mentioned in previous reviews, is that the chronology is confusing. The first few pages feel like you are brushing off cobwebs and pushing aside tropical leaves to enter this exotic world. So we are instantly transported by the power of her language into the scene. However, as she takes you further into the story, you feel a little suffocated by the detail and towards the end, bored. It feels as if she can't bring herself to get to the point, and justifies this by saying, well all good stories are told for the sake of the story, not for what happens. Fair enough. And it is true that we already know part of the tragedy from the beginning and are teased instead with wanting to know "how" it happens. And Roy keeps us curious. But as a reader you still think - get to the point. I also had to re-read the first few chapters to re-work out who was who and where I was in the sequence of events. You could argue that what was undoubtedly a conscious decision not to run the plot chronologically was better than a linear narrative, but I personally got fed up with it. I thought that the description, imagery and playful word associations clouded over what could have been a fascinating insight into one of the major themes. However, there can be no doubt of Roy's superb talent for descriptive and atmospheric prose and her ability to write straight from the random consciousness of children, which she does extremely convincingly throughout the book. If it weren't for the shifting time line of the plot, and a couple of unanswered questions at the end, I would have given it 5.