Read Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch Free Online
Book Title: Jamrach's Menagerie|
The author of the book: Carol Birch
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 7.9
Edition: Canongate Books
Date of issue: September 1st 2011
ISBN 13: 9781847676573
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 36.28 MB
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I received my copy from Bookhugger's Real Readers programme and the first thing to note is that the cover is absolutely stunning. The second thing is that the opening paragraph is one of the most enticing I have ever read. Unfortunately, after such a promising first impression, it falls a little flat.
It's definitely an adventure novel, but this creates some odd strengths and weaknesses. I would disagree with the negative reviews which found it difficult to read. It's written in quite a compelling fashion and I never felt the urge to stop reading and pick something else up instead. It's very easy to get through and quite a quick read for its size. Where the problem arises, however, is that it's very much a case of "this happens, then this happens, then this happens" which leaves very little chance to satifyingly develop the characters.
A lot of reviews praise the emotion and depth of the novel whereas I found the characters to be quite thin and often struggled, or just didn't care, who was who on the ship. Names and actions often blurred or seemed inconsequential and the major characters seemed rather dull, with the exception of the strong, willful, Ishbel, who unfortunately is absent for most of the book, and Jamrach himself, of whom we learn very little. The others seem mostly like creations for events to happen to rather than complex, functioning human beings.
Where the book does shine though is in its descriptions of places. London especially feels very much alive and encapsulates the filth and magic of the city. The islands and ocean feel fresh, alien, and full of wonder. Jamrach's yard feels both fantastic and tragic. Arguably the places become the characters the people fail to be, with lives and mystery beyond the words on the page.
Despite my criticisms, there's something very endearing about this novel. Yes, it's quite dull; yes, the characters are underdeveloped, but I feel really bad for not liking the book more than I did. There's something there, whether it's the author's underlying skill, the appeal of adventure, or how close it comes to being good. It's a shame it didn't quite fulfill its potential, but there's enjoyment to be had here and I'd definitely consider reading more by Carol Birch in the future.
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Read information about the authorCarol Birch is the author of eleven previous novels, including Turn Again Home, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and Jamrach’s Menagerie, which was a Man Booker Prize finalist and long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the London Book Award.
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