I’ve just finished reading our book club choice for the next meeting – and for once I’ve finished several days before we meet, not the morning of the actual day! I confess, without knowing anything about the book, I didn’t really fancy it. I had not enjoyed another book by the same author (another book club choice, and in fact I don’t think I finished reading it!) I know I shouldn’t be put off by the cover, but I was, however, I’ve decided it’s not on to not at least make a good effort when someone has chosen and recommended it, so I took a deep breath…
It started with an entry in a journal or diary, but the date and place were obviously some fictional fantasy time and place, and I did give a little sigh… however the writing was so clear and so engaging and without properly understanding what was going on, I continued to read and I admit I was reluctant to let go of my misgivings. However, before long I was deep in the story, which was clear and yet mysterious, aspects hidden from the narrator, as well as from the reader. The descriptions of the fantastical setting were so vivid it was easy to imagine where this took place, it was very filmic, it was extraordinary, it was believable, realistic despite being in actual fact impossible! Was it sci-fi, was it fantasy, what was it? A reviewer describes it as being of ‘a unique genre’. I got to a point where I had to continue reading it during the day – I usually ration myself to reading before I go to sleep, but I literally couldn’t put it down. In fact, I read it on my phone when we went shopping, and stayed in the car to continue reading when we got to the shops. It was gripping right to the end, the mysteries were explained (within their own world) there was a proper and satisfactory conclusion, and now I feel as if I want to read it again to go back into that strange and incredible world.
What is the book? It is Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. It’s an absolute tour de force, and although in many ways it is very complicated – goodness knows how she managed to write it – it is not confusing although there is a mystery which the reader sees through the eyes of the main character the eponymous Piranesi. Clarke’s style in this book is very pure and clear, elegant almost – and it makes me think – with a sigh, of my own writing and that I could and should learn a lot of lessons from her.
I’m looking forward to book club to find out what my friends think!