5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Good, bad & insubstantial,
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This review is from: Foreign Bodies (Paperback)
It's readable. The chapters were short bursts which helped. It is multi-viewpoint, a structure that I don't like but in this instance I just about got along with it ok. The writing is cool, detached and workmanlike but not enthralling. A lot of listing and every now and then a run of rather pretentious stream of consciousness that was sometimes artificial.
I expected much, much more from it than I got, is the bottom line but I can't totally write it off as a bad book or not worth reading. The character of Bea did not work for me, she felt a little too sketchy and I think I felt this because the novel kept zipping off to someone else's point of view as I was getting used to Bea.
I have read Henry James' The Ambassadors which language-wise is a workout. You have to get your ear in, but you are rewarded as James really does plunge into his subject of Americans coping with bad old Europe. In this book I waited for an up-dated analysis of that theme but it didn't come, nothing much happened really and the writer, an experienced and lauded one, tells you such a lot and shows you too little. You are waiting for something to happen before your eyes and just as some little thing does, away we go into someone else's life. I felt cheated somewhat. Little of the book is spent in Paris, certainly not by Bea who I expected would be the main conduit for the clash of modern America and old Europe ripped and bleeding after the war. She's in the U.S. bumbling about causing chaos and not really experiencing any kind of culture clash or collision of worlds.
A missed opportunity. Too many points of view, always dangerous. Sometimes a little too self-conscious and I didn't 'buy' those letters either as they felt too literary and not full of the characters that wrote them. It was all vague and swirling around. More like a collection of short stories about a load of people who know each other.