I read In A Lonely Place with my book group last year. We all really liked it.
I have seen the film of this and it was great.
Loads of these types of books pop up on the Backlisted podcast. They did one on In A Lonely Place, which is how I first heard about Hughes - 142. Dorothy B. Hughes - In a Lonely Place — Backlisted.
Sometimes books that are out of print get re-published pretty much off the back of Backlisted episodes. Rosemary Tonks’ ‘The Bloater’ is the most recent one I think, which is really good, though that went out of print at Tonks’ request originally.
I’m getting to the end of Babel at the moment, and I find my view on it pretty similar to yours.
I was hoping - given the magic as translation thing - for more depth to what the novel would say about language and colonialism. However it never really seemed to tie its magic to its message, and the critique of colonialism is given in very broad strokes. Like you, I found the whole thing kind of hectoring - as if it was expecting the reader to want to defend colonialism at every turn.
The novel’s also a bit have-its-cake-and-eat-it with respect to its ‘don’t buy into the magic of institutions like Oxford’ message. Some of that’s probably unavoidable in selling a book about the illusion of Oxford. However, the bits where Robin and friends recognize the elitism of Oxford’s balls and societies but decide that they simply must experience these things when in Oxford is quite a cop out.
oh yeah 100% re it’s depiction of Oxford. I work in a school where there’s quite a lot of weird elitism pressure from some parents for their kids to go to ‘Oxbridge’ and I hate the romanticisation of Oxford for that reason, it really puts my teeth on edge. One of the things that I initially thought I was going to love about ‘Babel’ was undermining that but I think it only really does so in a very half-hearted way.
One more gripe: don’t know how near exactly to the end you are but there are two things near the end that were so heavily signposted and I think then supposed to be shocking/exciting/dramatic reveal! and I just found it really clumsy.
Started ‘Islands of Abandonment’ last night and its lovely.
Not read it (and wasn’t ever really thinking about reading it) but this review makes it sound really flawed
Yeah I think a lot of that is spot on (and includes things that hadn’t even occurred to me to be bothered by). What’s noteworthy though is just how high its GR average is: 4.36 from 40,000 ratings: which speaks to near-universal adulation. Normally the only books you’d see rated that highly are sequels where the only people who read them were huge fans of the original: ‘Babel’ is clearly working really well for a whole load of people.
did notice the author had given it a 5 star review herself
Lots of authors do this on GR, I’ve noticed.
Fifty pages or so to go. Interested to see if I can guess what are the two telegraphed twists you’re referring to - Anthony not being dead, and Lettie betraying the others?
I’m here for it, TBH. If you’ve not got your own back why are you even writing this book?!
Author: “3/5, lazy and cliche filled, you can tell they just did their research using Wikipedia from their sofa in their pyjamas a week before deadline day”
Not enjoying Deep Wheel Orcadia very much and I feel so sad about it.
I just read that a couple of days ago. I quite liked it, although stopped reading the Orkney bit quite early on, other than checking it now and then.
I somehow liked the feel of it all, even if I really didn’t quite grasp what the story was about or what was happening a fair bit!
I also ordered The Gallows Pole (arrived today).
Just had a big tidy up of my TBR pile. It’s quite tall, but I’m seeing that as a good thing - I used to find it daunting, now I just find it pleasing to know I have lots to choose from for my next read when I finish a book.
Currently inching my way through SPQR by Mary Beard about the history of Rome, which is really interesting but it feels like there’s a lot to remember.
Also, The Sunken Land Begins To Rise Again by M. John Harrison, which has a lovely (if unsettling) vibe with lots of characters trying to work out why strange things happen to them, and they’re all a bit vague. Might not work with the wrong writer, but I think we’re in safe hands here.
Also also, dipping into some Daphne Du Maurier short stories. The Birds is pretty damn bleak. In the same collection there’s one called Monte Verita, about a cult who live at the top of a mountain, which is really good.
Most are Christmas presents or bought withbook tokens i got for Christmas.
Way more non fiction than usual.
Have started Islands of Abandonment and i love it so far!
The fact that this pile is not arranged pyramid fashion with the biggest books at the bottom and the smallest at the top is giving me conniptions.
I very much enjoyed Isles Of Abandonment btw, and The Brilliant Abyss is also really good!
Yes! I loved this too. Really interesting, plus it’s the only thing I’ve read that’s made me feel better about the impending doom.