Sunday, January 25, 2009

Good Holiday Read – The Forgotten Garden

Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden is a good fun holiday read. A page turner with good mix of romance, fairytale and mystery. Bit like Dianne Setterfield's The Thirteen Tale, but perhaps not as successful as Morton’s book tried to cover too much ground in terms of all these different elements.

Reading it made me think of the way authors use the narrative device of alternating timelines for each chapter. Morton uses this device to drive the narrative, but I found at some points in the book it was done a little too obviously and with a real lack of subtleness.

I was sorely disappointed in Phillipa Gregory’s The Other Queen, which alternates between three different narrators. I just couldn’t get into it. Call me old fashion but where is the story telling skill involved?

One author who is does the alternating timelines/chapter device brilliantly is Frederick Forsyth. In his books the narrative often swing back and forth between timeframes, but he uses this device with such skill and subtlety. Forsyth builds his narrative the connections between these different time frames in such a deliberate and carefully crafted manner.

Just finished Icon which is a masterclass in story telling.