Sunday 10 June 2012

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it - James Bryce

I did it.  I finished the tome that is The Golden Notebook.  I feel the need to mark the occasion. 

And what, you may ask, did I think of it?  What indeed.  Well, I am certainly no authority on anything but my own feelings and reactions. And sometimes not even on them.  So I will give you my response with these reservations.

I loved the beginning, the flow, the strength and interaction of the characters.  Moving from the storyline to the notebooks was interesting.  The notebooks add a disjointed element. But that is not negative, it’s just different.  Innovative.  Challenging.  Something to which I relate, for I have tons of notebooks for different moods, purposes and events.

The descent into madness troubled me. Exasperated me.  Repulsed me somewhat. I hated that she knew that her behaviour was out of control and yet would not respond.  I felt she indulged it.  Revelled in it even.  Put off what she would ultimately do.  For she would ultimately take full control again for the sake of her daughter and thus toyed with madness rather than was afflicted by it.  But I needed her to take control sooner.  And when she finally did, and everything sorted itself out, it felt false and rushed and manicured to manufacture a kind of happy ever after.

But then not really happy at all.  Indeed, no-one ever seemed happy in the book.  All the main characters seemed a tad spoiled and overindulged.  The women who often claimed such strength felt weak and dependent. Responsive only to the men and their whims. The men were all portrayed as arrogant and selfish.  Men and women full of their opinions.  Full of their need to fulfil their needs.  Holding back from nothing.  And yet not one of them offered a glimpse of hope or understanding.  Fellow-feeling.  Or simply offered an answer.

It seems like a tale of people living a life they thought they should live, that should make them happy, yet constantly aware that it didn't. With no answers offered.  No direction, no encouragement.  No energy.  Indeed I felt more than a tad sucked free of any energy I might have had at the end.

I was glad to finish. And not just because it was a tome.  I do wonder what others think about it.  And I will find out.  I’m off to Google.

And that, my friends, is the joy that is reading.  Good, bad. Up and down.  And ultimately, an experience every time.

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