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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A SUPERB BOOK, 29 Jun. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Easter (Paperback)
BOOK REVIEW

'Michael Arditti's Easter is a revelation. It's no more a book for one season than Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Nor is it a book just for Christians or people who go to church. What Arditti does so brilliantly is to explore the place of God in the world. Easter is full of doubts and questions, as when the Vicar asks in one of the wonderful passages, if it is 'God who has abandoned us or we who have abandoned Him? Is He dead, as Nietzsche claimed, or merely locked up on trumped-up charges on Devil's Island?' It makes you think more than any novel I have read for years but, at the same time, it offers up answers. It doesn't take a fashionable, post-modern view that all truths are equally valid but proposes a radical theological framework, that is itself a message of hope.

But Easter isn't heavy or a tract. The Church settings are a rich source of comedy. Arditti is wonderful with animals - from the recalcitrant donkey who
misbehaves by the font at the Palm Sunday service through an aristocratic lady's pet parrot which interrupts a funeral service at a most inopportune moment. His deeply moving portrayal of Cherish, an African girl with AIDS, shows that he has lost none of the skill he showed in Pagan and her Parents for depicting children. As for the marvellously drawn gallery of adult characters, it is hard to know which to pick out. My own favourites are Lyndon Brooks, a neurotic adolescent with an overheated imagination and a unique line in seduction techniques; Jessica Grieve, the Vicar's wife who bashes a verger on the head at a demonstration, shouting 'Down with Oppressors everywhere'; Trudy England, the Holocaust survivor who is haunted by nightmares of Hitler's moustache 'like a spider on her pillow'; Massimo, an Italian nurse, determined to challenge English peoples' 'insular conviction that Deviance is the capital of Abroad'; and, of course, Queen Elizabeth II, frugally making a Callard and Bowser buttersotch sweet last the journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey and trying to ignore her husband's tone-deaf humming from Fiddler on the Roof. But there are so many other characters equally worthy of mention in a novel that, for scope - and achievement - can only be compared with one of the great Russian nineteeth century books.

Easter is a big book, but there are felicities of thought and expression on every page. Read it for its comedy; read it for its poignance; read it for its philosophical insights; read it for its technical skill. Only read it... you won't regret it.
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