23 Nov 2016

IN A LAND OF PAPER GODS.

IN A LAND OF PAPER GODS by  REBECCA MACKENZIE.

BACK COVER BLURB: Jiangxi Province, China, 1941. Atop the fabled mountain of Lushan perches a boarding school for the children of British missionaries. While her parents pursue their calling, ten-year-old Henrietta S. Robertson discovers that she, too, has been singled out by the Lord.

As Japanese invaders draw closer, Etta and her dorm mates retreat into a world where boundaries between make believe and reality become dangerously blurred. So begins a remarkable journey, through a mystical landscape and to the heart of a war.

FIRST SENTENCE: My name is Henrietta S. Robertson

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 133}: 'If God is so good, then why do I feel so lonely?'

We began one of our lists. 'You're not lonely, you've got us.' We all piled on her bed now. We spoke as one. 'You've got God, your mother and father who are Christians, a school with Aunty Muriel and us.'

'And a brassiere,' said Fiona, who would know because they shared a cupboard.

SOURCE: A reading group read.

MY THOUGHTS: An enjoyable enough read in so far as, whilst hopefully less shallow, I saw much of my younger self in the highly imaginative ten year old daydreamer, Etta. However, overall ....

I found the novel slow. So slow that at times I found myself wondering not only just where the plot was going but if it was going anywhere at all.

Oddly tame, what I can only describe as sanitised, Tenko it wasn't. Even the 'harrowing' bits of the book (which I won't go into in detail here for fear of spoilers but suffice to say part the latter chapters of the book are set in a prisoner of war camp) were, well, unbelievably civilised. 

What could have been a great exploration into the various relationships - that between the children themselves, the children and the 'native staff', the children and their parents. A missed opportunity in my opinion. The fact that here were a group of 'Christian' children who to all intents and purposes were sent away by their missionary parents intent on converting the natives whilst always present was largely lacking in poignancy, apart from the fact that Etta would not recognise her parents if it weren't for the photograph by her bed and one all to brief episode involving a visit by a parent the author somehow failing to convey how painful it must have been.

A debut novel. Whilst In A Land Of Paper Gods wan't altogether a hit with me, beautifully descriptive, I'd be interested to see what else Rebecca Mackenzie is capable of.


14 comments:

Kelly said...

I'm a bit iffy on whether this sounds good or not. Maybe if it were to fall in my lap I might read it, but I don't think I'll seek it out.

Always interesting to see what choices reading groups come up with.

Tracy Terry said...

I didn't actually get to the meeting where the book was discussed but I was informed that not one of the group enjoyed it. In fact several hadn't even finished reading it.

kimbacaffeinate said...

It is a shame that this had potential but didn't quite reach it.

Literary Feline said...

I admit the description of this one doesn't draw me in at all.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Aw too bad. It sounds like it could use a dose of editing. At least you found her writing to be interesting enough to try her other work.

Suko said...

Tracy,
I'm glad you found this beautifully descriptive, at least. I hope you will enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving feast!

Brian Joseph said...

The setting and plot of this none sound interesting. Too bad that it was otherwise lack lusture.

Sherry Ellis said...

Can't say the first sentence hooked me.

Natasha Hill said...

Ah no it's a shame this didn't read as well as it looked as the premise for it seemed quite interesting, especially as I love the title for this book - it made it sounds so majestic and mythical! Hoping the next book you review is more enjoyable. Thank you for all of the lovely comments on my posts lately too! - Tasha

Melliane said...

It's too bad it's a bit slow but in a whole it could be interesting

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I hadn't heard of this one before and it sounds like an interesting storyline. Sorry the story moved so slowly. As always, I enjoyed your honest review.

The Bookworm said...

It's too bad it was slow, it sounds like it has alot of potential.

Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Tracy,
What a shame! I was really intrigued by this one and thought I might enjoy it, but perhaps not. I agree with Melissa (Books and Things) more editing might be all that was needed.

I wanted to let you know I’ve finally completed the tag you included me in some months ago. I’m so sorry it took so long! x

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

Ooh, I am interested in this one. I'm okay with slower stories (Dickens's stories always stick out so slowly for me at first but I always manage to plough through). Thanks for the recommendation!