Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Just a Thought

'A Change of Climate'
By Hilary Mantel

My lovely mother got me 'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel for Christmas, the Man Booker prize winning novel. Somehow I had managed to pick up one of Ms. Mantel's previous works at a book sale so I thought for my education I should maybe read this one first for a little compare and contrast in writing styles. Not to mention the fact that 'Wolf Hall' is HUGE and this book is a scant 300 pages in comparison so an easier intro to an author's body of work.

I knew going into this that they would inevitably be different. 'A Change of Climate' was written in 1994 and is set in the present day (1980s) and looks back on the life of a married couple some 30 years, where 'Wolf Hall' is written some 14 years later and is set during the life of Cromwell but you get my drift.

'A Change of Climate' is a story of the marriage of Ralph and Anna Eldred. The book opens at the funeral of Ralph's sister's married friend (she was his mistress for 20 years) and Ralph had just found out. Anna knew all along. You think it's painting a picture of their moral makeup. Then the story flashes back to Ralph's boyhood and and how he believed in Darwinism and fought against his parents staunch Victorian beliefs. He wanted to be a geologist. They were going to cut him off and then his sister so he backed down.

Once he meets and marries Anna they decide to become missionaries in Africa in the 1950s. Being that they didn't go to Africa for purely religious reasons in the first place, more as an escape and to prove a point on Ralph's part, and because wives do what their husbands want of them on Anna's part, it almost helped with the foreshadowing that something awful would happen. Their first post is in South Africa and since it is the 1950s it is the age of Apartheid and they blunder badly and are moved again to Bechuanaland (now Botswana) where something awful happens to one of their young children.

Back in the countryside of England, 30 years later, Ralph is having an affair and now after all that they've been through together Anna is not sure she can/should forgive him.

The story had all the makings of a great novel, I won't deny that, but the pace, in the words of my father, moved slower then a turtle with sore knees, and I guess even though in theory it shouldn't have, it really bored me. Does that make me too pedestrian for great works? I don't think so. I just hope for more from 'Wolf Hall' or that is going to be the longest book ever!

(I bought this book at a used book sale)

1 comment:

  1. I got Wolf Hall too, but I'm totally intimidated by it's length. Maybe we should "buddy" read it so we can motivate each other!


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