Against my best instincts (see my previous post) I did finish Victoria Hislop‘s populist award-winning The island (2005). Though obviously there must have been enough narrative drive to carry me through to the end, it didn’t really get any better than previously blogged. I mean, I’m jolly pleased they found a cure for leprosy and all, but for me the weave of the dual narratives – on the island and ashore on Crete – was adrift, the pacing and passage of time dodgy. And Oh! – the tacked on posh soap melodrama of the bad sister’s marriage and fate. Oh the Victorian courtship and matrimonial stakes! The dialogue is often stilted and it is hard to imagine it being spoken in anything but a pre-’60s British black and white movie. I’d say it was traditional popular women’s fiction – ’30s? ’40s? ’50s even? – but I can’t really say I’m that au fait with the genre.
As a practising librarian I would occasionally, for the purposes of research (and in my own time, I hasten to add), graze in fields of literature I’d not normally have gone anywhere near. I’m open to surprises. I read an Agatha Christie one evening and couldn’t remember who’d dunnit the next morning. I took Jeffery Archer‘s Kane and Abel home for a weekend and zipped through it. The man could hardly put a sentence together but – pure corn though it was – I was hooked by the storytelling, had to give him that. With The island the surprise was in the deflation. There’s nothing wrong with the structure of Victoria Hislop‘s sentences, just the hackneyed or unnecessary words that populate them. On page 314 of the paperback edition someone “physically collided” with someone else; elsewhere “Pedagogy was an investment in the future” (p95); while in answer to a marriage proposal, “ ‘Yes’ was the single, husky syllable she was capable of expelling” (p408). And Kazantzakis (who I always intended to read after spending a week in Crete many moons ago but never quite got around to) didn’t win a World Peace Prize – he got the Nobel Prize for Literature. I guess I should leave it at that, really. One begins to question one’s motives … Enough already. While not exactly expecting John Fowles‘ The Magus (about which I can remember little save a young man’s rite of passage on a Greek island), I was hoping for a bit more than I got here.
Amazingly the rain held off on Wednesday for the Dance Out at the Fox & Hounds and a pleasant evening was to be had. The picture shows members from three of four lively sides who were strutting their stuff – the Rose & Castle and Queens Oak morris, and the Stony Steppers – while the Old Mother Redcaps (who’ve had their photo here recently so they can’t complain) got rhythm. The picture is a photo shamelessly lifted from the Steppers’ FB page and indulgently posterised in PaintShop Pro – a process I find hard to resist. I might be the ghostly watcher at the back.