John Self (Asylum) on Catholics
Guy Savage (His Futile Preoccupations) on The Doctor’s Wife
A recommendation rather than a review:
The Doctor’s Wife, first published in 1976, is the story of Sheila Redden, aged 37, who meets a younger man on a holiday in France. Sheila is somewhat reminiscent of Mary Dunne, but stronger and more controlled. Where Mary Dunne felt defined by the men she married, Sheila Redden does not.
Throughout the story, we learn about Sheila, but also, and possibly more so, about her husband (opinions vary). Sheila has one child, a teenage boy. The story is smoothly told from three points of view: Sheila’s, her husband’s, and her brother’s. We do not directly hear from the lover or the son, but we can certainly feel for them.
This book is a gem in more ways than one. Embarking on the Mooreathon with Lizzy, I wanted to read all of the books on offer. This one is the most expensive to buy used. And used is the only way you can get it. So, not wanting to spend £10 or more on a copy from 1987, I ended up with an old musty copy from 1970. The price in the U.K. is listed as 5/-. I have lived in the UK a long time, but I don’t know what that means. Helpfully, there’s also (25p) listed. It was 80c in Australia, 75c in New Zealand, and 60c in South Africa. But I digress.
The title of this book refers to a poem of the same name by Wallace Stevens. There are a few lines of that poem quoted within the book, but if, like me, it doesn’t make much sense to you, don’t worry. Moore may have wanted to make some sort of statement with that reference, but if he did it’s lost on me, and there’s plenty more that I do understand.
The Emperor of Ice-cream is mostly a story about a young man named Gavin. He’s bored with school. He doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life and is at the point where he needs to make decisions about it. He thinks his parents don’t understand him, and he’s not sure he likes them much. Pretty much every 17 year old in the land, but there is never a dull moment for the reader. Gavin is flawlessly presented, along with his dual alter-ego black angel / white angel. But it’s not only Gavin who is portrayed so well. We get insight into the personalities of many other characters. How does Moore do it, in only 190 pages?
In short, this book is near perfect. The end ties together a bit too neatly if you take it too literally, so I decided not to.
I highly recommend this book. It’s up there with Judith Hearne. In fact, I think it’s surpassed it; high praise indeed.
The Statement, published in 1996, is a complex story of a man who has been on the run for many many years. The story is told in such a way that the reader’s sympathies may suddenly shift, and there are many surprises. (This is a good thing for this reader.)
I found that many of the opening first lines of chapters were quite cumbersome. The combination of names, titles, and places could have been refined.
That’s the only criticism though – the book is full of intriguing characters and situations. It’s hard to review this one without giving anything away so I’ll close with: A recommended read.
What is the difference between a normal every-day thriller and a literary thriller?
I don’t know, but Lies of Silence reads quickly and easily just like any thriller. However, there are points made which tend to stick with the reader.
I think we can be assured that Brian Moore did not give credence to either side of “The Troubles”.
Beyond that though, there’s a study here about doing “the right thing”; can the value of one person’s life be weighed against the value of many? And once you’ve resolved that in principle, what if that one person was someone else? Tricky!
Lies of Silence reads like a thriller, but after nearly two weeks, I still remember it, so not my normal every-day thriller.