3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A curious and beguiling tale,
This review is from: The Geographer's Library (Paperback)'The Geographer's Library' is a novel with two threads. Every other chapter follows the story of Paul Tomm, a newspaper reporter in modern-day America investigating the mysterious death of an old university professor; the alternate chapters describe the origins of fifteen arcane objects thought to hold the key to eternal life. So this is a present-day adventure with strong historical influences, and as such has inevitably attracted comparisons with best-sellers like 'The Da Vinci Code'. These associations are largely misplaced; this story is not what I would call a thriller, nor is it especially adventurous. Rather, it is a sophisticated and placid tale designed to appeal more to the reader's intelligence than the senses.
I wouldn't describe Fasman as an outstanding writer, and some of the exposition feels a little clumsy; but once the introductions are out of the way, the prose boasts some uncommonly beautiful descriptions which seem demonstrative of incredible skill. The characterisation, structure and dialogue are, for the most part, impossible to fault. The author is excellent at evoking atmospheres and emotions with just a few sentences. The obvious criticism is that relatively little actually happens. There are no exhilarating chases and few violent scenes; even the central romance between Paul and a local schoolteacher, Hannah, comes to little more than a kiss. Despite this, I never found myself losing interest in the story; the final third, in particular, had me anxiously turning the pages to reach the conclusion.
The novel is thoughtful rather than thrilling, intellectual rather than action-packed; but I certainly wouldn't say this makes it uninteresting, and the gradually revealed twist in the tail means it would easily warrant a re-reading. If you're after lots of action, violence and continuous twists and turns, you probably won't find this book particularly satisfying - but I thought it was captivating, and what's more, I know I will feel compelled to pick it up again and again in the future.