Another year, another Booker. After last year’s fun but not particularly informative blog roundup, I thought I’d take another crack at looking at what bloggers have said so far about the Booker longlist. (For my own part, I own about five of these, but have read none of them. Yet.)
A S Byatt: The Children’s BookOpinions have been divided so far on this new tale of Arts and Crafts by the author of 1990 Booker-winner Possession. Dovegreyreader was so impressed, she felt she should approach it on bended knee, and promptly invited A S Byatt along to her blog for a Q & A.
KevinfromCanada, however, takes the opposite view: “I will continue to reread her earlier work with interest, but for me her oeuvre is now finished.”
J M Coetzee: Summertime
Not published until September
Adam Foulds: The Quickening MazeThis fictional take on poet John Clare’s stay at High Beach asylum in the 1830s has earned thumbs up from both Tom at A Common Reader and John Self at The Asylum.
Self advises: “Foulds is here to stay, so get in on the ground floor and read him now.”
Sarah Hall: How to Paint a Dead Man
The (ahem) “blogosphere” doesn’t seem to have paid much attention to Sarah Hall’s latest. That’s sure to change following her longlisting, but in the meantime, The Lunecy Review interviewed her back in March.
Samantha Harvey: The Wilderness
This tale of a man dealing with Alzheimer’s led Kimbofo to declare Samantha Harvey “an exquisite writer and a skilled novelist,” while Lizzy Siddall got off to a slow start before being drawn in and eventually being left “reeling“.
James Lever: Me Cheeta
Film blog Spectacular Attractions takes an in-depth look at this fictional autobiography of a 1930s acting chimp*, and the English department at St Columba’s College advises that readers not neglect the index.
*As in a chimp that acts, rather than, you know, somebody temporarily filling in as a chimp.
Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall
Not a young adult novel about werewolves, but a 672-page novel following the story of Thomas Cromwell at the court of Henry VIII. It inspired a kind of stream-of-consciousness commentary from Dovegreyreader. There were plenty of other things in Google that looked like blog reviews, but turned out not to be: sometimes I’m amazed by how many good book bloggers there are, and sometimes I’m amazed by how few.
Simon Mawer: The Glass RoomThis, I suspect, is a good one, though it’s been lingering unread by my bed since publication back in January.
While you may not want to use the best china if Dovegreyreader and KevinfromCanada come for dinner to discuss The Children’s Book, there would be no fisticuffs over the universally loved Glass Room: her “holistic reading experience” is his “bold risk“, and one that pays off.
Meanwhile, A Common Reader gets perilously close to a standing ovation.
Ed O’Loughlin: Not Untrue & Not Unkind
The blogs haven’t paid much attention yet to O’Loughlin’s story of a foreign correspondent in Africa, so here’s a Guardian review instead.
James Scudamore: Heliopolis
Ditto. (Except for the bit about the foreign correspondent in Africa.)
Colm Toibin: Brooklyn
I only got to page four of Brooklyn, before deciding that either Toibin couldn’t string a sentence together, or I couldn’t read one. I suspect it was me having an off day because, while it generally seems to be considered not his best book, it was applauded by The Asylum, Kevin From Canada, Dovegreyreader, Beth Kephart, and Three Guys One Book.
William Trevor: Love and Summer
This one’s due at the end of August.
Sarah Waters: The Little Stranger
For some reason, I’m just not tempted by this ghost story / social history novel from the author of Fingersmith and The Night Watch. (This despite Abigail at Asking the Wrong Questions describing it as “sort of cross between Brideshead Revisited and The Haunting of Hill House.”)
However, while she feels it has the “thrills and scares of a horror movie”, and Fleur Fisher says it has “moments of fear, pain, and grief as vivid as anything I have read,” the overall positive review from Jenny’s Books felt it was short on “spine prickles.”
So there you go. If you write / read any great blog reviews of the longlist, please feel free to drop a link in the comments below. I’ll update this page as the new reviews come in.