Flash Reviews (20th September 2013)

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel ***
I really enjoyed Life of Pi and was interested to see how it compared to Martel’s other work.  Beatrice and Virgil certainly follows a similar structure – a protagonist takes a journey (this one is mainly metaphorical) with a couple of animals who have human names (and who are given voices here by way of a play written by a taxidermist), and who muses about life along the way.  There is quite an autobiographical feel to the story, and it was rather clever at times.  I liked the use of different narrative techniques throughout, but some of the sections of the taxidermist’s play seemed a little long and far too drawn out.  Beatrice and Virgil is a very sad book on the whole, and its odd ending makes the entirety feel rather disjointed, which is a real shame.

Our Little Finnish Cousin by Clara Vostrovsky Winlow ***
I downloaded this on my Kindle on a whim before I went away, merely because it sounded cute.  Finland is the only Scandinavian country which I’ve not visited as yet and I’m longing to go there, so my interest in the title was peaked,  I think the sense of place which Winlow captured here was lovely, and the book is rather educational for its intended child audience, both geographically and in terms of the culture it portrays.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan ****
I have wanted to read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist for such a long time, ever since I watched the rather sweet film adaptation with my boyfriend.  I started reading it on the plane over to Menorca, and had to read it in secret on my Kindle during our landing (naughty, I know) when the air hostesses came around, because I couldn’t bear to put it down.  Having seen the film, I knew what was going to happen, but the getting there was the best bit.  There is perhaps a little too much swearing in the book, whereby it is used for the sake of it and for no real narrative effect, and it certainly shouldn’t be marketed as a children’s book, but it is very sweet on the whole, and rather amusing at times.

French Leave by Anna Gavalda ****
I have been wanting to read Gavalda’s work for what seems like an age.  I wasn’t expecting such a contemporary novel, but I very much enjoyed it.  The characters and their differences were drawn very well, as was the French countryside and the relationships between the Loriat siblings.  The novel is rather a short one really, but I imagine that it is a great way to become acquainted with Gavalda’s writing style.