Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Andrew to Zadie

I've recently finished reading Andrew Motion's memoir In the Blood, which I found very absorbing. He managed to get the reader into his world very successfully, although I thought that world to be a slightly melancholic one, probably because the story starts with the accident which his mother suffered, and the implications of it were then a sort of shadow in the background of the rest of the narrative. As a contrast to that I've also just read Zadie Smith's On Beauty, which I've been looking out for at the library for a while - I didn't want to read it enough to buy it or even reserve it - sometimes it's nice to leave things to chance. The first book read by the reading group I set up at Shirley Library was White Teeth, which some of the group found hard going and one or two thoroughly enjoyed. I found On Beauty rather different from White Teeth, as the cast of characters is not quite as eccentric but still fairly international and the relationships not quite as complex, which makes for a slightly easier but still enjoyable read. The relationship between the two families, both men academics with non-academic wives who become friends of a sort, and their children, most of them at college or having just left or about to go is portrayed is all its argumentative detail and is all the more enjoyable for that, it's what gives the book life and humour. The ending is also one of hope for the future, not what it appeared to be turning out to be.

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