8 Feb 2011

THE DISAPPEARED.


A reading group read, The Disappeared was ...........

The 1st book read in the Loving The Reviews Reading Challenge.
THE 10th book read in the 100+ Reading Challenge.

THE DISAPPEARED by KIM ECHLIN.

More than thirty years after their earliest kiss, Anne Greeves, a woman alone in Canada, feels compelled to speak about her first lover Serey, a gentle Cambodian singer. She describes a passionate love that transcends all barriers - followed by a decade of inexplicable silence, a miraculous meeting and, finally, a treacherous pursuit across Cambodia's killing fields in the aftermath of Pol Pot's cruel revolution, a quest doomed to end in agonizing heartbreak.
..... From the outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE: Mau was a small man with a scar across his left cheek.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: I loved the wisdom called chbap. Vithu taught me: Don't let a hungry man guard rice, don't let an angry man wash dishes.

At 284 pages (not including the historical notes etc) this was in fact a very short read given all the spaces with no or very little text - one chapter consisted of only one and a half lines of type.

Far too 'flowery' and poetic to the cost of both the plot and characters -  if I'm totally honest,, I found myself totally uninterested in what became of Anne or Serey which is a shame as this could have been such a moving love story.

'A love that transcends all barriers' claims the back cover. Given the time that the story was set, I would have expected some racial tensions with Anne being a young, white woman and Serey an older, more experienced, Asian man. Sadly the author did not really develop this side of the story which to me prevented it from becoming realistic.

But even more disappointing was the way in which the journey to the killing fields was dealt with. I don't know if it was the overly poetical language that was used but, and I'm almost ashamed to say this, I was left unmoved even with the ending that was quite harrowing but so contrived as to be unbelievable. Such a shame as it really did have the potential to be so moving and to make quite a large impact on the reader.

Would I recommend The Disappeared? Shortlisted for the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize, I would assume that lot of people thought highly of this novel and would recommend it. I, unfortunately, am not one of them.


15 comments:

Mary said...

I can't tell you how many "award winning books" I've read only to say "What?!" at the end. Your honest review is much appreciated.

Su said...

Awww... don't you hate it when a book has that level of potential and just misses it? Too bad!

Misha said...

I really hate the usage of "flowery" language when the characterization and the plot is so lacking! I can understand why you didn't like it so much.

GMR said...

Ah yes...tis better to have read and not thoroughly enjoyed than to never have tried at all. (Or something like that...) Thanks for sharing!

Melissa Gill said...

Thanks for the review Tracy. I often find writers who try to hard to create a "literary masterpiece" miss the mark in making you care about the story and characters.

Suko said...

Petty, I don't think this book was your cup of tea. :)

Nina said...

I never heard of this book and I don't think I will ever look it up. Sorry you didn't like it.

ps: I just love that cover. That background is stunning, it's the sun setting down. I don't even know if that's correct, anyway. And that guy is beautiful!!

Vivienne said...

sorry to hear you didn't really enjoy it. HOpe everything is OK with you.

Lynda Young said...

It's funny how many books that are shortlisted for prizes are often the least popular ones. I think they get the prize for their art, rather than their story.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I can understand when the flowery language can get in the way. It is like they are living in their head and don't quite see that sometimes simple is so much more poetic. Great honest review!

Jenners said...

That is a shame that it didn't live up to its promise. It sounded like it would be harrowing and romantic and a bit scandalous at the same time.

Kelly said...

I'm sorry, but even before I got to your part of the review I knew that this wasn't one that I would enjoy. You confirmed it with your opinion.

A said...

Sometimes awards do not match with merit

Erratic Thoughts said...

Ahh! Thanx for that review Tracy...I am going for book-shopping spree this weekend, m in a desperate need of new books.My stock's hitting an all time low!
This is gonna help..:)

purplume said...

Yes, your honest review is much appreciated. Thanks.