3 Jun 2015

SOUTH OF THE RIVER.


SOUTH OF THE RIVER by BLAKE MORRISON.

BACK COVER BLURB: South of the River opens on 
the 'new dawn' of Labour's election victory in 1997, and ends five years later. But this is not so much 'state of the nation' as state of our souls, marriages, families, hopes and careers - a sharp and sexy portrait of a dysfunctional group of characters, all different yet connected. 
- Click on book title to view full synopsis.

FIRST SENTENCE {Part 1: New Dawn, 2 May 1997 - Chapter 1: Libby}: Half a decade later, as she stood by a high window ready to throw herself out, what Libby would remember of that day wasn't the dinner-table conversation with her husband, or the footage of Tony Blair waving to the crowds, or even the interview with the man who would become her lover.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 125/6}: At Arran & Arran, there'd been a Creativity Zone, with a juke-box, a fruit machine, a pool table, a red telephone box, a trampoline, an orange bouncy rabbit, three scooters, a galvanised dustbin, a chess set and a Monoploy board, such objects being provided for the purposes of play, stress relief and, most important, inspiration, the principle having been enshrined even before Greg Drosz's arrival that no Creative could possibly achieve greatness without the freedom to spend the day behaving like a three-year-old.

SOURCE: Ex-library stock.

MY THOUGHTS: Alas not at all to my liking. 

Too fragmented. South Of The River is not so much a story as a catalogue of events some of which the reader only becomes aware of some time after they have occurred which only adds to the overall confusion. The synopsis is at least right in that this is not so much a 'state of the nation' novel as a novel of middle-class adultery.

Never have I been so indifferent to a novel's characters. Unable to like/dislike them - yes, I found them that mediocre. The nearest I came to having any feelings about them one way or another was when one of the characters whilst acknowledging that she was partly to blame for her children (seven and five) being unable to read ('if only she had more time, if only when she did have time she wasn't so exhausted') laid the blame firmly with the school. 

And then what is it with the odd little asides, the fox theme that ran throughout? Like the subjects at the revealing of the Emperor's new clothes I'm afraid I was left wondering just what exactly was happening. 


12 comments:

Gina R said...

Oh my. Looks like we both were "down the river" with our selections today. Better luck next time around!

Kelly said...

I'm not inspired to read a book dealing with US politics, much less another country's! And even it that's just the backdrop and not the central theme, it doesn't sound appealing. Total indifference to the characters sounds like a death knell for me. Even disliking the characters is preferable to indifference!

I'm sorry this one was a disappointment for you.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Aw, too bad. I hope the next read is better. I don't think this one is for me either. I'm afraid I'd feel the same way.

Brandi Kosiner said...

Sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy this one as much as you'd like

Literary Feline said...

Oh well. You did better than me, as I don't think I could finish a book in which I felt indifferent for any of the characters. That's usually my sign to give up and try something else.

Alexia561 said...

There's nothing worse than mediocre characters! Sorry this one didn't turn out, but hope your next read is better!

kimbacaffeinate said...

Sometimes these fragmented reads lose me too, as I cannot fully slip into the story, although like you I enjoy bits.

Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

A fox theme? How did that come up in the book?
I hope the next one's better.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

So sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this one. I appreciate your honest review. The cover looks interesting. :)

Brian Joseph said...

This does sound bad. Characters that elicit no response in reader really are a sign of poor writing.

It is too bad that you had to waste reading time with something like this.

Lady Lilith said...

Sorry to hear this book was not all that. I hate wasting my time to feel disappointed.

Claudine G. said...

Oh dear, sorry this didn't work for you.