Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
A very unusual and only slightly baffling book
on 17 December 2010
This was the first A. L. Kennedy book I had read. I chose it in a charity shop, because I have lived in Scotland for three years and always like to read more Scottish novels, and A. L. Kennedy is always quite entertaining on TV and radio.
I am slightly baffled by the book, but not more so than by a great many literary novels. (The 'pretentious nonsense' reviewer may have missed the fact that literary novels often do not spell out plot etc. explicitly, and should perhaps stick to reading Dan Brown.) I chose to let it 'wash over' me, much like one of the earlier reviewers here. Nevertheless, I would describe this book as being plot-driven. The story is mostly quite contemporary and down-to-earth, but with the added twist that the main character, outwith the first-person narrator, is a French author who died in 1655, and who inexplicably fetches up in a Glasgow house-share in the mid 1990s! This, and how the character's trajectory is dealt with, is what makes the story baffling, and overall makes this a very, very unusual book. Note that it is most definitely NOT magic realism, despite the appearance of the 300-year-old character.
I found the prose style delightful, and very readable, and the book overall was a fine mix of seriousness and humour. I am only giving it three stars because I reserve five stars for real favourites, and I didn't find this book quite enjoyable enough to give it four, but I definitely enjoyed it -- it's staying on my shelf, rather than going back to the charity shop -- and I shall definitely seek out more A. L. Kennedy.