Category Archives: Iain Pears

As We Get To The End Of The Year…

So naturally I have started to go through what I think are the best books of the year which I will announce on the 30th of December, in the lead up and looking at other people blogs everyone is working out how many books they have read and by male or female authors like Simon Stuck in a Book. I liked this idea of as well as blogging your favourites of the year you do something a bit different too. However I thought of a few extra questions I would ask people, so here we go…

How many books read in 2008?
I think the one I am reading now will be the last one of the year as after that am reading Anna Karenina and don’t think could read that in less than three days and finish this one so “When Will There Be Good News” will be my 102nd book of the year beating last years 69.

How many fiction and non fiction?
In total 94 fictions and 8 non fictions.

Male/Female author ratio?

50 male and 52 female which really shocked me as I thought I had read much more books by women than men, odd.

Favourite book of 2008?
I have a pretty sneaky suspicion but you’ll have to wait until the end of the year!

Least favourite?
Midnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy was incredibly boring though I finished it, I didn’t finish Iain Pears ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’. I also thought that ‘Son of a Witch’ by Gregory Maguire was poor; I don’t think anything he has done has been as good as ‘Wicked’ though. I refuse to mention Abby Lee. I was also underwhelmed by Emily Bronte sadly.

Any that you simply couldn’t finish and why?
I didn’t finish the aforementioned ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’ just because after realising that I was going to have to read the same boring storyline four times from different people I gave up during the second. My Gran read this and struggled on through but said she wished she’d given up. The other was ‘Company of Liars’ by Karen Maitland which I really wanted to read but just wasn’t in the right mind frame for, maybe in 2009!

Oldest book read?
Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ which I thought didn’t live up to expectations at all.

Newest?
I have read a fair few new ones of which isn’t out until January, so a few pre-publication.

Longest book title?
I read quite a lot of long titled books such as any of the M.C. Beaton ‘Agatha Raisin’ novels but it was Mary Ann Shaffer’s ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ is officially the longest.

Longest and shortest books?
Nicola Barker’s ‘Darkmans’ was easily the longest; shortest I think is ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ by J.K. Rowling.

How many books from the library?
None, which is shameful isn’t it!?

Any translated books?
‘The Reader’ by Bernhard Schlink, ‘Strangers’ by Taichi Yamada and ‘In The Miso Soup’ by Ryu Murakami.

Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author?
Stella Duffy, I managed to devour three of her books this year!

Any re-reads?
Not this year.

Favourite character of the year?
Julie Ashton the narrator of ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ just completely and utterly stole my heart this year, either her or Atticus from Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading?
England and America through the ages, Italy, China, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, France, Africa, Afghanistan, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, The Netherlands, Guernsey, Mexico, post apocalyptic somewhere, and of course the land of Oz.

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation?
‘The Reader’ by Bernhard Schlink.

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read?
Five classics; Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, Henry James ‘Turn of the Screw’ and John Buchan’s ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’.

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Filed under Bernhard Schink, Emily Bronte, Gregory Maguire, Harper Lee, Henry James, Iain Pears, John Buchan, M.C. Beaton, Mary Ann Shaffer, Nicola Barker, Ryu Murakami

The Instance of the Fingerpost – Iain Pears

Sometimes a book comes along and you think ‘wow that ticks all my boxes’. Take Iain Pears ‘Instance of the Fingerpost’, it has a wonderful dark cover with a skull and a tattered worn book – already this is so me, it’s a story of murder set in 1665 (not my favourite period in time but not far off) so we have history, we have a gothic dark undertone and the promise of thrills and spills. So why did this book fall flat with me? Why after reading well over half did I put it to one side with the prospect of an Oxfam run looming?

I got bored. Very bored. This I am sure will outrage many a reader as I have hardly heard a bad review of this novel (oddly another reason I thought I would love it), other than my Gran who has read it for book group and wishes she had done as I did and put it down and not bother.

The tale is set in 1663, in the backdrop we have King Charles II whose thrown is restored though all is not well, in Oxford Dr Robert Grove is found dead in his chambers, the suspected murderer is a servant girl Sarah Blundy. The tale of the murder and the subsequent events which are neither haunting, thrilling nor really that interesting are told by four separate accounts and this is where my first problem lay I think. I didn’t really need to spend over 200 pages a go being told ‘inconclusive biased’ accounts of the same incidents over and over; it didn’t do anything for me. I did like the character of Sarah Blundy; I also like the first narrator of the tale Marco da Cola. But once his version was questioned and I felt I had put so much time and effort into him and his past to be told it was probably all lies I felt angry and cheated.

Maybe that’s what Pears was aiming for, maybe I should have read on and found Marco de Cola had been right all along. What it did instead was infuriate me and leave me reading Jack Prescott’s version of events half heartedly and eventually I just gave up. There ended up being far too many characters and by this point Pears had lost me and so had 1663 Oxford. A shame as from the start I wanted to love this book, maybe its me? Maybe I hype a book up in my own head and then am left disappointed I hope not. This sadly is an author and a book I don’t think I will be giving a second chance, maybe I am just bitter?

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Filed under Iain Pears, Review, Vintage Books