Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Eight - Birdsong - Part Two

I’m trying to keep an open mind about this book. I’m enjoying it, but like Anna Karenina this one includes a woman becoming involved in an extra-marital affair with scant explanation for why she does so. The explanation for why this man pursues the married woman is that he’s obsessed. Oh! That explains everything! Just say he’s obsessed, dude, since we all know exactly what that means. I could have done with more evidence of his internal struggle rather than simply being told he’s obsessed, but that’s just me. The same goes for the woman. She’s a buttoned-up proper French woman one moment and an adventurous lover the next, all ooh-la-la.* Seriously? Oh, there were a couple of “reasons” given but these characters haven’t been fully explained. Perhaps that is coming. At this point, however, I dislike the conclusions made by the narrator.

The subtitle of the book is A Novel Of Love And War and part one was all love; thus far part two is all war. I’m not sure whether it’ll go back and forth like that throughout the novel, but as a long-term strategy love and war don’t generally go together very well. I suspect this one is mostly about war, and war is a man’s world so I’m not sure when Miss Ooh-La-La will return. But I suspect she shall do so.

There are moments that are just right and these are the things I enjoy about this book. For example, here’s evidence that some things don’t change. Does this sound familiar? The beginning of the book is set in 1910--
I can’t bear these folk tunes you hear so much of these days… When I was a young man it was different. Of course, everything was different then… give me a proper melody that’s been written by one of our great composers any day. A song by Schubert or a nocturne by Chopin, something that will make the hairs of your head stand on end!
And here is another description that I particularly like; she happens to be the elderly relative of the man from the above quotation. “Her reputation as a person of patience and sanctity was based on her long widowhood and the large collection of missals, crucifixes, and mementos of pilgrimage she had collected in her bedroom…”

Also, there is a peanut butter stain on page 105 which I inadvertently left for the next owner of this book. Just thought I’d mention it.

*If you are unfamiliar with the ooh-la-la phenomenon you may want to check out Pepe LePew on You Tube. You won’t regret it.

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