The Boy Who Belonged to the Sea – Denis Thériault (Book Review)

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I spotted this whilst browsing a small bookshop in a small village in the middle of the Peak District – a complete chance encounter! I’m a fan of Thériault’s work:

Set on the rugged north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, The Boy Who Belonged to the Sea tells the touching story of an extraordinary friendship between two young boys who have both suffered the loss of a parent. Although they have little else in common, the boys come together in their grief and take refuge in a world of their own creation, a magical undersea realm inhabited by fantastical beings. Their imaginations take them on a wild adventure, but as the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur, their search for belonging takes them on a perilous journey that threatens to end in tragedy.

The story follows a young boy whose parents are in a tragic accident who is then to live with his grandparents in a small village where his mother grew up. Upon joining the local school, Luc is introduced – a strange, insular boy who lives with his fisherman father.

As the story develops, we learn of Luc’s love for the sea – stemming from his Mother entering it one day to never be seen again; Luc believing her to be a mermaid, rather than facing up to the possibility of her suicide.

As the boys friendship develops, they begin fantasising of an underwater world of their own creation, but as for Luc, when the line between fantasy and reality become blurred, things begin to strain in their relationship, and indeed Luc’s control over his mind.

I read this book over the course of 2 days, eager as I was to continue with the story. The book has a bleak atmosphere to it, and it’s written well into it considering the story. The themes sought throughout are mostly concerning the relationship between mothers and sons. Luc having an absent mother and a present but abusive father, he is seeking examples of motherhood from the other characters in an effort to create a viable image of his own.

Much in the lines of The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman and The Postman’s Fiancee, the story is a little strange in comparison to most novels these days, and will likely be not to everyone’s taste. That been said, this is certainly one I think people should try. The author writes consistently interesting books and I hope he continues to do so in the future, not that his other two have began to receive the recognition they deserve.

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The Postman’s Fiancée – Denis Théirault (Book Review)

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I mentioned a little while back in a post titled Five Book Tags that I recommend a book called “The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman” to everyone – well I found out the author was writing a sequel, and after some waiting, it has arrived!

Twenty-two-year-old Tania has moved to Montreal to study, fine-tune her French and fall in love. Finding work as a waitress in an unpretentious down-town restaurant, she meets Bilodo, a shy postman who spends his days perfecting his calligraphy and writing haiku. The two hit it off. But then one stormy day their lives take a dramatic turn, and as their destinies become entwined Tania and Bilodo are led into a world where nothing is as it seems.

The book is a sequel I never expected with the ending of the previous being so rounded perfectly – so I was a bit curious to how this would fit in:

This sequel fits into the first in an unexpected way, which though works, felt a bit like forcing an almost-correct jigsaw piece next to another.

The characters are almost equally creepy in their approach to romance – Tania taking advantage of Bilodo’s amnesia to trick him into thinking he once lover her is a little bit strange to call a romance – though that’s how many have classified the book.

There is humour throughout too which fits perfectly, and the writing style is indescribably surreal, giving a weird atmosphere to the book so unlike your typical novel.

I’m afraid to say though that following the first one, this one is a bit less perfectly rounded – it leads some unanswered questions that the prequel didn’t, and though it was a good read – it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped!

The ending relied too much on Bilodo being somewhat blind to the obvious, with the haiku of Granpré, the mysterious English professor, being such a giveaway, he’d have to almost never have read them to not see the clues throughout – which frankly, I don’t believe he would have done.

Still, they are both worth reading – and I am glad I have done so.

 

Five Book Tags

I’ve decided to create five categories for which to assign a book to. I stole these at random, and didn’t have any particular in books in mind when I began (/writing this). I’m going through a time of looking into books I wouldn’t otherwise consider, and think it would be interesting for others to use these tags in order to get an idea of what other people are into. Please comment a link to your blog should you do so!

A book you judged by the cover and was right

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The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Theriault

It was autumn, I was looking for a short book, I stumbled across this. The only branch of a cherry blossom with its leaves falling to the ground made me think the book was going to be somewhat peaceful, and the the title made me wonder how this would be combined with that impression. This is a great little book and one I recommend to just about everyone at some point.

 

A book you shouldn’t judge by the cover

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The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey

I feel that this cover is very simplistic, and the alternative ‘movie cover’ is even worse. I bought this on release and it is bar far the best ‘zombie book’ I’ve read. Most cliches were avoided, and the writing was actually quite good. It avoided a lot predictable plot points, and some parts were genuinely frightening.

 

A book you tried and disliked

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The Black Eyed Blonde – Benjamin Black

I hadn’t read much within the crime genre and so picked one at random. At first I thought the cliches (dusty telephone that hadn’t rang in weeks, long-legged blonde walking into the office, smoking and whiskey addiction) were ironic and funny, but it soon became evident they weren’t meant to be ironic. I felt the main character was just observing the events the whole time, and didn’t actually forward the plot himself. Maybe another crime book in the future.

 

A book that you didn’t finish

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Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

I just couldn’t get gripped by the story. I understand the premise etc., but I just found it wasn’t written well. I felt that the same few phrases were being used over and over to the point where I was no longer interested when the narrator ‘was reminded about the time when…”, so I put it down and started another book.

 

A book you’ve been meaning to read for some time

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The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky

I’ve liked everything I’ve read so far by Dostoevsky, and a few of his books make it into my favourites pile, but I’ve never read The Idiot. It’s not too long compared to some books, and premised is quite interesting: an impoverished noble returning from an asylum, regarded as an idiot due to his natural goodness they perceive as naivety. I own the edition in the picture too… one day I’ll read it.