The Armchair Squid's
Like last month, I still realize not all of you give a good diddle about a book recommendation, so I'll offer a little something else for your enjoyment before finishing up with the book review. Oh, and this will be my last post for a while, too. Although I'm not gonna participate in the A-Z Challenge this year, I AM gonna take the month off from blogging and maybe get some work done on some writing projects. Heck, I might even rearrange some of the dust bunnies around the house, or paint a wall or two. Who knows? (After all, I was born to be wild...) To those of you who will be working your way through the alphabet and a bazillion blogs, have fun! Maybe next year for me. Maybe.
Since the bogus funny billboards seemed to be such a hit last month, I think I'll go with some more of them this month. Remember, these things arose from the fertile imaginations of some mighty creative minds; they aren't billboards you'll ever actually see standing alongside the road. Tough. We're still gonna take our virtual road trip to check 'em out. As always, many thanks to the fine folks at dribbleglass, who so graciously granted me permission to use these images.
Ready? Let's go-o-o-o...
Well, I hope some of those floated your boat. Now, for the book review. Let's see... which one kicked the butts of all the other books I read this month? Tough call.
But I'm gonna go with... this one:
According to the description on the back cover: The epic tale of Harry Clifton's life begins with the words, "I was told that my father was killed in the war." A dock worker in Bristol, Harry never knew his father and expects to carry on at the shipyard, until a remarkable gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys' school, and his life will never be the same again...
As Harry enters into adulthood, he finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to question: Was he even his father? Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line? From the ravages of the Great War and the docks of working-class England to the streets of 1940 New York City and the outbreak of the Second World War, this is a powerful journey that will bring to life one hundred years of history to reveal a family story that neither the reader nor Harry Clifton himself could ever have imagined.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, here's what I think about it:
I actually won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. (Yep... Lucky, lucky, lucky!) I've read a number of Archer's books in the past, but it had been a while, so I was thrilled to have one of his books fall into my lap again. If you've never read any of his books before, you might want to check him out. He's a master storyteller.
When someone is telling me a story, I generally prefer to receive it in a linear fashion; I don't need a lot of backtracking, rehashing, or side trips. Just tell me the darned story already. And if possible, don't keep telling me the same thing over and over. I'm pretty intelligent, so there's a good chance I picked up on that particular detail the first ten times you told me.
So what did I think of a book that essentially tells me about the same events over and over... and over... again? Actually, I liked it. A lot.
See, this book tells the same story, but from different perspectives. Each section of the book is named for a particular character, and begins with a first-person narrative from that character's POV, followed by a 3rd person part of the story, based on what that character knows, thinks, or thinks (s)he knows. There's also a little bit of head-hopping, mixed in with some omniscient narrator POV.
Sounds confusing, but it isn't. I must admit, when the first retelling began, I was a tad annoyed at having my preferred "linear" story interruped, but the author's mode of story-telling is like a jigsaw puzzle being put together via group effort. Different characters provide different pieces, and just like people, some characters try to force their pieces into the wrong place.
All-in-all, this overlapping mode creates a rich depth in both story and characters. I'm not sure many writers could pull it off nearly as skillfully as Archer does, but I still don't think I'd like a steady diet of this style of story-telling. Archer already has a well-earned reputation for being a skilled storyteller, but I wouldn't recommend any new writers to try his approach. The constantly changing POV and head-hopping probably wouldn't be readily accepted from someone who hasn't already proven his marketing appeal.
I only have two major complaints. One, I have a problem with the genetic depiction of grandfather-to-son-to-grandson transmission of color blindness. From my understanding of this affliction, Archer's explanation is long on supporting the story, but short on facts.
The other problem is the book ends on an "Oh, no!" moment. No resolution. More of a cliffhanger, so the story isn't "done". Luckily, although I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway as a "first read", it isn't a new book. (Just new to me.) I say luckily, because this is book one of the Clifton Chronicles, and three more books in the series have already been released. (Ah, HA! No waiting!) When I finished reading this book, my first inclination was to speed to the book store to get the next one in the series. Too bad it was 2 AM at the time.
Bottom line: Don't count on this book being a stand-alone. It's like the first taste of chocolate. Once you get a taste, you're probably gonna want some more.
Well, that's all folks! Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. See y'all in May, but don't be surprised if I pop into your blog for a visit or two before then. Yep, I was born to be... oh, never mind.