6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A slow start but persevere!,
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This review is from: Leaving the World (Hardcover)
It was strange (in a very good way) to read a novel where the main character shares my name but I have to confess that I did not find Douglas Kennedy's new novel an easy read at first. I can remember picking up A Special Relationship at the airport and within the first two pages being totally hooked. However, with Leaving the World, like the previous reviewers, I found it hard going at first, and I don't mind admitting that a lot of the references to American Literature went completely over my head, which added to the difficulty I had with the first 200 pages.
In some ways, Douglas Kennedy's new novel reminded me of Krzysztof Kieslowski's film, Three Colours - Blue, which tells the story of a grieving widow who, in the face of terrible tragedy, abandons her old life and estranges herself from friends and family in an effort to ensure that life can never hurt her so badly again. However, the difference is that while tragic events befall the heroine in Three Colours - Blue, Jane is let down by almost all of the people who have any importance in her life and the legacy of her parents affects how she ultimately lives her life.
There were times when I wanted to shake Jane and yell at her to change the way she had decided to live and to take the help that is offered to her, which is testimony to Kennedy's skills as a writer to flesh out his characters and to elicit those feelings of empathy in me. There were many times when she could have changed the course of her life but chose not to.
Leaving the World is not, in my opinion, a light-hearted beach read, but its strength lies in the fact that, despite all of us being prey to random forces over which we have no control, there is hope that we can overcome those circumstances. In finally facing up to the events in her life we learn how Jane surmounts the terrible injustices served up to her.
The last third of the story was a gripping read and although I felt it was a little far-fetched at times, it was still Douglas Kennedy at his story-telling best. From a personal point of view I would like to have seen the last twelve or so pages of the novel expanded and explored more as I felt this was slightly rushed. The European city location happens to be my favourite place in the world and dare I hope for a novel to be set there in the future?
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Initial post: 17 Mar 2009 12:02:08 GMT
Julia Flyte says:
Hi, I was wondering how you felt about this book when you'd finished it! I agree with everything that you've written. I didn't mention in my review the American literature references going over my head but I easily could have and I agree that while they were probably what a character like Jane would have thought/written, they also made me feel like I wasn't in her intellectual league. I get what you mean about the parallels to "Blue" (love that movie), interesting comment. Julia
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