20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A difficult but rewarding read,
This review is from: Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear: Fever and Spear v. 1 (Your Face Tomorrow Trilogy) (Paperback)
This book is the first part of a trilogy which has just been completed. I came across the author because of a truly wonderful story about his fear of flying in the summer 2009 issue of Granta. More recently, The Economist highly recommended the (third volume of the) trilogy, acknowledging that readers have to cope with several problems.
This first part is a personal and a family history, and a history of the Spanish civil war, by a man endowed with a unique talent. He is able -on the basis of brief encounters (interviews, sometimes observations with only a few words exchanged) -to assess persons, know them better than they know themselves and put his findings on paper, in report form. It is a very rare gift and his talent is turned into employment by a shady agency in London, after his marriage in Madrid breaks up. The agency and the history of his sponsors suggest he is hired to play a role in support of post-Cold War intelligence work. After all, he lived in the UK before he married, lecturing in Oxford, building a network of friends. Interesting!
However, Javier Marias (JM)is his own writer, full of ideas and ambitions beyond a simple spy novel. The way the novel is written has led one Amazon.uk reviewer to give up reading well before reaching the half-way point. Why? Most pages are solid blocks of text, indentations are few, white lines absent. Fortunately, the chapters are fairly short. Real dialogues are rare. Usually, one character answers a question and holds forth for pages on end. Such essay-type statements are frequently interrupted by page-long musings by the hero himself, and then the lecturing continues. Is it a book written for women rather than men?
But it is also on occasion a warm, passionate book because of the personal ingredients. His description of the emotions at work during a break-up are unsurpassed: the fury, the incomprehension, the doomed efforts to win back a loved one, the autism received. Same for definitions and examples of betrayal in general. The description of the hero's frenzied midnight search in his mentor's library for details about the Spanish civil war is superb.
After finishing this book, I was in need of something else. But I will read Part Two of JM's trilogy, because he has really made me curious about what happened before and happens next.