Category Archives: Peju Pierre

A March Retrospective

A summary of the books I read in March, with links to reviews:

A Mysterious Affair of Style by Gilbert Adair – 3/5
Nowhere near as entertaining or cleverly conceived/wrought as the previous book in the series, The Act of Roger Murgatroyd. Disappointing.  (My mum enjoyed it, though!)

Ella Minnow Pea by Matt Dunn – 4/5
A clever & enjoyable fable set on an island where an overzealous council bans more and more letters from daily usage as a historic monument begins to decay. If you enjoy word puzzles, this is a really fun read, but more importantly, it’s a good story, too!

BOOK OF THE MONTH:
War Crimes for the Home by Liz Jensen – 4/5

In this sharply witty tale, Gloria looks back on life with her sister during the war, and discovers why certain memories are more reluctant to re-surface than others. I was relieved that the ‘twist’ (evident that it would be coming from early on in the story) was slightly different than I had imagined.  I like the fact that Jensen explores different styles in her writing, this being quite different to The Ninth Life of Louis Drax (equally enjoyed, and in retrospect does have some overlap of theme despite the dramatic difference in characters), My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time (a vivid historical romp, but with a schmaltzy ending), Egg Dancing (reminded me very much of Fay Weldon – actually, War Crimes could be said to have echoes of Weldon, also) and The Rapture (not as good as I had hoped).

The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Peju – 3.5/5
An accident involving a bookseller’s van knocking down a young child whose mother has not collected her from school provides the framework for this introspective and philosophical novel about two drifting souls searching for either meaning or escape.  Very French, very existential, quietly intriguing but lacking engagement on an emotional level.

Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway – 3.5/5
An encyclopedic look at Verity Bell’s life, naive and touching; very cleverly constructed.

The American Boy by Andrew Taylor – unrated
Read up to about the halfway point & was neither hating nor loving it, but realised I had no great desire to continue reading it.  So I stopped.

A scene in a novel comes back to him

“A scene in a novel comes back to him in every detail, complete with the corresponding page layout, typeface, smell of glue and paper, and even the blank spaces, the punctuation, the word-break at the end of a line, with part of it hanging on by a hyphen and the balance forlornly embarking on the next line.”

from The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Peju

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The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Peju

DATE FINISHED: March 28th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  A bookseller driving his van through the crowded streets of a small French town knocks down a young girl whose mother has failed to collect her from school.  While the girl is in a coma, Vollard tells her stories from his immense memory; and Eva’s mother drifts in and out of the hospital, more trapped than ever.  Both must live with their guilt over the child’s situation, and what will happen if & when the child wakes up?

THOUGHTS:  Despite the appealing jacket and the emotionally drama-wrought potential of the synopsis above, this is a very quiet novel, about two adults who are lost in different ways, for different reasons.   Read more of this post