Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Unremarkable

My book club met on Monday night to discuss Those Who Save Us. This was the first book all year that we all finished and that we all liked - quite an event for us. The enjoyment of the book ranged from those who thought it was 'fine, readable, maybe missing something' to those who 'really liked it'. All in all, it was a success. A good discussion of an atypical holocaust book, one in which we see the point of view of the German civilians.

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Does this ever happen to you? You finally get around to reading a book by an author praised by critics and fans alike and find yourself...totally underwhelmed? That's what happened to me when I read P.D. James' Innocent Blood. P.D. James is well known for her detective series and since I don't generally gravitate toward those sorts of series I chose to read this stand alone novel.

The premise is intriguing. Philippa is an adopted British woman who upon turning 18 seeks to discover the names of her birth parents. What she discovers about her parents and their involvement in a murder is horrifying. Phillipa's story is juxtaposed with that of a man hungry for revenge who creeps around London hunting his prey. It sounds interesting, yes, but in actuality I found this book very...dull. There is great description of place, but the characters were one dimensional. Oh the characters! Never has a more unlikable group of people appeared in one book! The 'bad' people were utterly void of morals, and the 'good' or shall we say 'better' people were not much better.

I think Innocent Blood would have worked well as a short story. This format would have given the reader more of feeling of tension. As it is, the story plodded along until the last 75 pages which I found satisfying. Except for the very creepy and corrupt event that happened in the epilogue. Ugh.

Someone told me, 'If you're looking for a good mystery, you can't go wrong with P.D. James.' For me, that hasn't proved to be the case, but I'm willing to give her another try one of these days.

13 comments:

Ti said...

I read The Lighthouse... I believe that was P.D. James and I was not impressed at all. It was boring and and the end sort of fell apart.

I love the word unremarkable. I use it a lot and I can see how you would use it here.

bermudaonion said...

I enjoy P. D. James' books but it always takes me a while to get into them because of the rhythm of her language.

Diane said...

I'm glad everyone enjoying Those Who Save Us, as it's on my list to be read soon.

I have several PD James books but have not read any :(

jennysbooks said...

I had the same experience with the one of P.D. James's books I tried. I am hugely in the mood for murder mysteries lately, so maybe I should give James another go. But not Innocent Blood. :)

Eva said...

I'm a fan of James' Dalgleish books (which even though they're a series I think work as standalones), but I wasn't nearly as impressed by Innocent Blood. So I'd say give one of the Dalgleish books a try before writing her off! :)

JoAnn said...

I haven't read P.D. James, but I'll be sure to start with something else!

melanie said...

I just finished Those Who Save Us and can see how it would make for a good discussion. I've overdosed on WW2 lit lately so I'm squarely in the middle on it.

Jenny said...

I like P.D. James but don't LOVE her. I find her books workmanlike and enjoyable. But I've only read her Dalgliesh books, where you can kind of connect to the central characters. As Eva said, you might try one of those sometime.

Cath said...

I read a lot of P.D. James years ago when Roy Marsden was playing Dalgleish. I always thought then that the books were readable but not wonderful. I don't think she's that great at characterisation and much prefer the dramatised version of her work. If memory serves you like books about India as I do? You might like to try the Inspector Ghote mystery books by H.R.F. Keating. I've only read one but liked it a lot and plan to read more.

Tara said...

Ti, that's interesting! I've only heard good word-of-mouth about her.

Kathy, I noticed that too about her writing.

Diane, I have one other PD James book....I think it'll be awhile before I dive into it.

Jenny, hmmm, that's good to know! Yes, choose another mystery! I just starte Louise Penny's latest last night, and so far I like it. (it's my first by her)

Eva, I'm glad to know you also read this! I will give her another try someday, for sure.

JoAnn, yes, do!

Melanie, I tend to do the same with WW2 lit - in fact 3 of our book club choices this year are WW2 books out of 10.

Jenny, thank you for the info. I'll try one of those books someday.

Cath, I agree with what you've said about James' characterization, totally. I do like books about India ! Good memory. I will check out Keating's work. Thank you for the suggestion.

Nan said...

I don't think the Dalgliesh series will disappoint, but if you don't care for detective novels, why bother?!

Nan said...

Oh, and speaking of India, though it is a detective book, I am LOVING The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall. It is set in modern Delhi, and my gosh, what a place. The author lives there part of the time, so knows what he's talking about.

Tara said...

Nan, it's not so much that I don't enjoy the detective novels I read..it's more that I'm just turned off by long series of them. I don't even know why! But then I'll go and read one and like it. I have heard good things about the Tarquin Hall book! I will have to check it out.