Friday, July 27, 2007

Lempriere's Dictionary by Lawrence Norfolk

This is big, thick, ambitious novel about ships and conspiracies, two things I'm not generally too interested in. However, I'm all for expanding my boundaries! The book follows John Lempriere as he leaves Jersey to travel to London in connnection with the reading of his father's will, after his father was ripped apart by hunting dogs, an episode watched by the young John. Along the way he gets caught up in conspiracies and underhand dealings relating to the East India Company and is asked to write a dictionary on Greek mythology, as he is already obsessed with the subject.

There are many things I loved about this book, the descriptions of Jersey (a place I love, evocatively re-recreated in the early part of this book) the occasional hilarious scenes, such as the Pork Club party and the huge tortoises stuck on the Opera House roof, even though they're not visible to anyone, the sense of adventure and the overall quality of the writing. The characters are vivid and well drawn and atmosphere is expertly conveyed, whether in underground passages or in the foggy streets of London.

However I found it tedious that so many scenes were presented from a variety of viewpoints without this adding anything substantial to the reader's understanding of the scene. I also got lost in some of the more convoluted detailings of the conspiracies. That's my fault rather than the books. My mind just doesn't work like that!

Overall, definitely a book I'm glad to have read, but I wouldn't read it again.

Submitted for the Hidden Treasure's Review Competition. It's open until 15 August, why not enter a review yourself?

1 comment:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, crafty!

Can I ask a HUGE favor? That you come on back to the Hidden Treasures Entry page and leave the permalink in the Mr. Linky feature that's there? That's the official entry area and it'll make sure your entry is seen (and pimped) wide and far.

Thanks, and thanks for playing!! Hope you'll play a few more times before the 15th.