I'm now half way through this and must say I'm finding it really ponderous. So far, none of the characters is very engaging, with the possible exception of Jenny the tube driver, and I've yet to stumble upon the 'plot'. The strongest impression I have is Faulks's use of the novel as a way to vicariously express his own prejudices. I've rarely stopped reading a book before the end but in this case I'm very tempted!
I'm planning to start it soon. I read his book, Engleby, and found that a bit dull. It could well be his style of writing as I found the story good but the way it was written didn't engage me at all...
I heard that on R4 as a Book at Bedtime number a few years ago and thought it was very good. However, the reader was Julian Rhind Tutt who could make the phone book sound captivating. Incidentally, he's just finished doing another BAB, "The Knot" by Mark Watson, which was also very impressive.
Probably his weakest book in my opinion. He introduces various interesting characters but then more or less ignores half of them and the book kind of fizzles out as if he got bored of writing it.
Have you read the brilliant Engleby? Undoubtedly his perfectly crafted masterpiece, lacking any of the flaws of his other books. A Fool's Alphabet is also superb, but being pre-Birdsong, hardly anyone seems to have read it and it is often absent from bookshops.
Hmmm, I'm getting the definite between-the-lines feel here for abandoning ship!
The only other book of his I've read was 'Metroland' which I enjoyed. This was a random charity-shop purchase so no great hardship to accidentally drop it back in there as I'm passing. Got a couple of alternative reads to move straight onto and I'm confident they'll be better.
> (In reply to Fraser)
> "A week in December" was entertaining light relief after "Human Traces".
Yes. I suspect that, having done so much research into psychiatry for Human Traces, Faulks probably realised he had written a dismal and rambling apology for a novel, so decided he might as well put it to better use and so wrote the fantastic Engleby.
In reply to Fraser:
I thought it was brilliant. Loved the characters. I'd read nothing of his, was given the book and so read it with no expectations. I must read more of him.
Although, if you don't like it yet, you probably never will.