Monday 13 April 2015

A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to A Year of Marvellous Ways.

I read When God Was A Rabbit four years ago and adored it from start to finish. When an ARC of Winman's much anticipated second novel turned up at work two days before my holidays - I knew it was meant to be. AYOMW was going to be my holiday read par excellence.

Everything started off so hopefully. The quirkiness I remembered; the lovely writing. I was in the zone to savour every word and nuance.
But slowly something happened...or failed to happen.

I failed to engage with the characters. I failed to feel emotional involved, & by page 163 (when the main characters finally came together), I failed to see the point.

I don't often write reviews about the books I did not finish or did not enjoy, but occasionally I find it instructive to work out what went wrong.

Was it me? the book? the author? the timing?

In this particular case I started off with extremely high expectations.

The cover treatment for the ARC was superb - inviting and inticing. The little peephole onto the wooden stilt house put me in mind of Vietnam. Even though I knew it was set in the UK, it was just another detail that made this book feel like we were fated to love each other.

I also normally enjoy a story that deals with memory.
The opening quote from T.S. Eliot's, Little Gidding had me ready to dive headlong into its world of living and dying and the marvellous inbetween...

We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.

I tried very hard to rediscover the magic of WGWAR but instead I kept bumping into disjointed time jumps and convenient crises. And in the end my sad conclusion was that it simply tried too hard...and the effort showed.

Normally, on a Monday, I would post my It's Monday! What Am I Reading schedule with Sheila @Book Journey.

But a couple of weeks ago I promised myself not to start any new books until I had finished all the half started ones by my bed (or in my suitcase)! 

Tragically, during this time, Sheila has suffered some heartbreaking family news which means that she will not be continuing her meme for the moment. 
I have found it heartening to witness the love & concern from the book blogging community pouring onto Sheila's various social media sites and blog. 
I sincerely hope that Sheila finds herself able to blog again one day soon. As we all know, the writing process can be such a creative, healing act & the act of reading can be such a comfort & release from our daily affairs. 

However, in the meantime (when I have finished the unread masses), I will continue my weekly reading updates on Monday's as I find them a truly useful way to keep track of my reading life as well as the many book events in the blogging world.

For now, I will finish with my own Monday Shout-out! feature where I highlight interesting reviews that I have read during the week.

Due to my recent holiday in Vietnam, I haven't read many reviews this past week or so, but I did make a point of catching up with Mangoes and Cherry Blossoms new Classics Salon meme.

The idea is to discuss or blog about the classic you are currently reading using the weekly question as a starting point.

I hope to use the meme to kick start my discussion of Germinal for Zoladdiction month along with Fanda et al.


  1. I, too, love books about memory. And perception! Sorry you didn't like the book! I hate when that happens. I have set down Lila by Marilynne Robinson twice now. I just want to love it but it's not happening. Lucky duck going to Vietnam! It's high on my list.

    P.S. Can't wait for you to read 84 Charing Cross Road! It's a book lover's delight!

  2. That's great motivation for finishing all of your in-process books. I'm not sure I would have that much self-control. :) Hopefully the rest of them turn out better than this read. Have a great week!


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