From one of the U.K.’s most dazzling novelists - whom Richard Ford has called “a profound writer” - comes this daring new novel set in the unsteady, self-contained world of a luxury liner.
While on a transatlantic trip with her soon-to-be-fiancé Derek, Elizabeth unexpectedly runs into ex-lover Arthur, with whom she shares a shady past: the pair once worked as traveling spiritual mediums who conned the vulnerable by pretending to contact the spirits of departed loved ones. While Derek remains seasick and cabin-bound, Elizabeth wanders the ship, alternately avoiding and seeking out Arthur. Unable to avoid memories of their fractured past, she must face the deception they practiced even as she accepts the peace they brought to the grief-stricken who sought their services. Intimately addressed to “you,” the listener, The Blue Book is both a portrait of two methodical con artists and a meditation on “how love is a private language, a set of codes, to which the outside world ought not admit impediment” (Telegraph). Irresistibly written, by turns comically wry and stunningly lyrical, with “some of the most unashamedly erotic writing since Nicholson Baker first contemplated a telephone receiver” (New Statesman), the book slowly, deliberately, and devastatingly reveals itself to the listener. The heartbreaking stakes are ultimately nothing less than fact and fiction, life and death.
Full disclosure: I'm mostly a non-fiction reader/listener. When I do consume fiction, it's usually mysteries and detective stuff. But lately I've been ripping through--and really enjoying-- a lot of contemporary fiction.
So when this came up on the new fiction list I gave it a chance. It held my attention for a while--the writing is excellent--poetic and evocative--and for a while the plot kept me going. Or more the lack of plot--as in, trying to figure out what the deal was with the characters and what their connection was. Once that mystery was solved, the narration just got too bogged down with inner dialogue--brilliantly insightful stuff to be sure, but still--too meandering and fragmented to hold my attention.
Maybe I'll pick this back up someday, but not anytime soon.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful