06 June 2010

Book Club - Lily's review

Lily was homeless/blogless this week, so this is her temporary abode, and her review is below:

Thanks to Cathy for taking in this temporarily homeless blogger. Middle son is to sort out my blog but problem is I haven't yet reached top spot on his 'to do' list. His moving to San Francisco for the summer and small things like finding an apartment and lots of work are currently higher on the pecking order than sorting his mum's online home. :) He assures me he will soon get me sorted so I will be back in action shortly. I'm looking forward to returning to blogging.

Back to the job in hand - A review of 'Let The Great World Spin' by Colum McCann.

I really enjoyed this book. It's quite a long read, and I don't know if it was just me being busy, thus taking up and putting down a number of times, but I found it took me a little bit to get to the stage where I was really enjoying it. It was very worth persisting though. 

Colum McCann wove the story around an event which occurred in August 1974 where Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the World Trade Centre towers. McCann very cleverly created a great work of fiction around this event. 

The story is told through eleven characters in New York City; Corrigan, an Irish monk working in the Bronx with a group of prostitutes including Tillie and her daughter Jazzlyn, herself a mother of two small girls; Claire, wife of Solomen, a judge, who lives on Park Avenue; Lara an artist with drug and husband problems; Gloria mother of three sons lost in the Vietnam war. And more. In McCann's story, the tightrope walker remains anonymous and unrelated to the characters in the story.

Each subsequent focus on a character brings the whole story along with the thread of the tightrope walker (or should that be the rope of the ...!) weaving it together.

I liked McCann's writing style. His revealing of plot line is very clever. Very quietly he adds in the outcome of the court case brought against the tightrope walker through Adelita wondering about Corrigan's reaction to the outcome of Tillie's versus the latter's case, both cases being heard on the same day.

McCann could create very credible female characters. He showed great empathy with the female form. One could really sense Claire's loss and loneliness in her pent-house apartment. Yet life as a hooker down in the Bronx was equally credible. He could describe Claire not wanting to let Gloria go on the day of the meet-up and Gloria's need to get away.

The tightrope walker almost acted as a metaphor throughout the book, people's trying to achieve balance in their lives, dealing with death in Vietnam, dealing with guilt from causing a car accident, dealing with the loss of a loved one in that car accident ...

All except the final chapter of the book are set around the few days in August 1974. The final chapter jumps thirty two years to 2006. McCann in my estimation ended the book well.

In conclusion, the construction of this story is very different and very refreshing. I'd definitely recommend this book. 



Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

It's good to see this book being reviewed. Everybody seems to be reading it these days.

I have to admit to finding some of it very hard hitting indeed.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm in the minority. I really didn't like the book at all.

Lorna said...

Hi Val, I'm off to read your review now and you should read mine and Jen's - we didn't like it either!! I love your idea of the tightrope walker as a metaphor, Lily, and I agree with you - there are some very clever ideas there. It was just that the characterisations were irritating and I think there were too many characters involved. In fact, I became so irritated, that I couldn't see any good in the book after a while at all!!

Made Marian said...

Hope you get your online home sorted soon Lily. It definitely wasn't just you, finding it a long read. I thought the same but I too, loved the idea that everything was centered around the tightrope walker. I really liked Claire and Gloria and would have probably enjoyed a book just about them, even more!

Kirsty said...

Lily! Thank God! I was wondering what on earth had happened to you so have been doing some sleuthing! I'm going to post my review tomorrow. I LOVED the book!

Catherine said...

Hi Lily - nice to read your concise review- that's a compliment to your ability to summarise the plot and the characterisation in a systematic way - it kept the links together in what could be a very confusing journey with the writer - he does have an empathy with the female characters doesn't he? I loved that about him, he really spoke through the women and their sadnesses. I do agree that persistence paid off. I already responded to your comment over at mine. I have others to reply to tomorrow. Hope your son manages to fix up your blog soon, it's frustrating when it's down and you have a deadline to meet!
Hope you're having a wonderful bank holiday weekend!
All the best, Catherine.

Cathy said...

Lily, it seeems at last we both liked the same book! I agree with you on the female characters - you could feel Claire's pain and grief