Cover of

I’m not sure what to make of this book so far. It’s got plenty of intriguing stuff going on but it’s not unputdownable. It starts in what I presume is the present day, at least it’s eighteen years after the story that starts to be told a few pages in. In those first few pages we see at least three of the characters from the main story that comes after them.

One of the problems I have with translated stories is that I wonder how much of the writing is what would have been in the original version. Did the translator add to the book or subtract from it? Of course, it makes no difference to me. Whatever I think the merits of a particular piece of English vernacular what I’m reading is the product of both the author and the translator. Whether the translator adds value or takes it away is a moot point, I just see the final product. It’s just something that niggles in my head when I’m reading something that I know isn’t the original version.

For example, people in the book often sound like old fashioned yorkshire men merging the t of ‘the’ into the front of their words. I wonder what that was like in the original. There’s also a passge about how a character swears in mixed Finnish and American where I suspect the original version worked better than the mix of English and American that has replaced it.

I found this book hard going for about a hundred pages and wondered if I might abandon it in the middle, not because I didn’t like it but because I was finding it hard work to read. After that though I got into the swing of it. It’s still a putdownable book but more because I want to savour it. It’s long and deep and slow and though I sometimes find the turn of phrase a bit strange it’s not a problem because the book is intricately plotted and that makes each sentence count.

In the end I had mixed feelings and was a little disappointed. Without making this too much of a spoiler in summary there were two levels to the mystery. There was the story of what really happened and then there was the story of why everyone behaved the way they did which was based upon what each of them had thought had happened. The second level was five star wonderful. The actual story was skimmed over and sketchy. Perhaps I missed something. The flesh of the book was very tasty but I feel the core was rotten and I feel let down by that.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 31st August 2001.