Tag Archives: L.R. Fredericks

Farundell – L. R. Fredericks

I mentioned last week how sometimes I will persevere with a debut novel because I feel debut novelists should be given a few more pages to get you – it’s their first novel after all. This could of course simply mean I am a soft touch; it can also backfire as it did with L R Frederick’s ‘Farundell’ which popped through my letterbox unsolicited a few weeks ago. From the cover and the blurb I thought ‘ooh John Murray have done well with matching this from what I like’ but as we all know you shouldn’t judge a book by a marvellous cover.

First up I just want to discuss the blurb actually or a bit of it, I know it should be about what is inside but I have to show you why I thought I would love it when it I got it. “Farundell is a story of magical awakening as a young man searches for meaning in the aftermath of the First World War, a young girl comes of age and an old man journeys through memory to death. There’s an enigmatic book, an erotic obsession, magic both black and white, a ghost who’s not a ghost, a murder that’s not a murder, a treasure that’s not a treasure. It’s about love, loss and longing; language, imagination and the nature of reality.” I thought this sounded really interesting and imaginative and something quite different. Well I was spot on with the latter.

Paul Asher has been fighting in World War One and been somewhat traumatised, though initially we aren’t quite sure why though we do get a small taster in the prologue. Not wanting to go back to his father in America he accepts a job writing down the memoirs of the elderly Amazon explorer Lord Perceval Damory and moving into the grand house of ‘Farundell’ and its surrounding lands and rather bizarre inhabitants. This was where I started to get a little lost, L R Fredericks really introduces too many within the first 40 pages as you have Paul’s back story, his London friends and then this host of characters living in Farundell. I had my notebook out and even then I was never sure who was related to who or how. Paul’s sudden desire to leave London and work in Farundell also really mystified me, I wasn’t convinced and even with the unbelievable (this was merely more slightly unlikely) an author should have you convinced.

Once in Farundell we start to meet this family who awake in the night outside their bodies (their ‘moon bodies’) and float around following foxes and watching sleeping guests. Again that’s fine. Yet they would then sit and talk about the whole thing for a few pages with lines like “I am not purposefully trying to confuse you” and “sometimes there is no answer” leaving the reader feeling very confused and actually wanting a lot of answers.

So why did I persevere? Well I kept hoping it would turn into something like ‘Atonement’ or ‘Brideshead Revisited’ which the publishers compare it to and are two of my favourite books – it didn’t end up like either. I also liked the magical surrealism yet it never led anywhere. To me this is a book that needed someone to reign the author in a little as rather than being a great post-WWI grand house drama or a surreal fantasy novel it seemed to end up not being either, not being satisfactory and going nowhere (even the love story didn’t interest me). I feel mean writing that about a debut novel but it’s the truth, someone should have edited it down, it feels a good 150 pages plus too long, and helped the author decide what they wanted it to be. A shame as it’s beautifully written it just doesn’t do anything or seem to have any purpose behind it or driving it. It does have a lovely cover though.

A book that will: either win you over and have you thinking it’s the most beautiful, enigmatic and imaginative novel or have you thinking its twee nonsense that promises a lot and goes nowhere. Sadly, and I genuinely mean that, I fell into the latter category. 4/10

L R Fredericks no doubt has great signs of promise but I won’t be reading this, or its follow ups (yes there is a series), and am not sure would give any future books not related to this a whirl. Should I write off an author after only one book? I actually think I should have stopped reading half way (as I have another debut since) as then I could have told people that it had promise but just wasn’t for me, now if I told people it had promise having seen the end result I would feel I was lying. Have you ever had any books like that, the ones where if you had left them unfinished you might have liked them more?

*Oops I originally called the protagonist Paul Auster – only becase I wrote the blog whilst mulling over if I wanted to read that author, my brain is truly overtaken with all things bookish it seems.

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Filed under John Murray Publishers, L. R. Fredericks, Review

Lastest Incomings & Postal Problems

I thought as I haven’t done one for ages and ages I would do a post on the latest arrivals from some of you and some lovely publishers over the last month and a bit. First though I need share my latest postal drama’s with you. You might remember a while back that I told you how my delightful postman (I like to point him out to visitors when they are staying so they can see just what a miserable so and so he is) was leaving my parcels in the street. Finally he has given up on that front but I was rather worried as some rather important parcels (which I can’t share with you or talk about sadly) hadn’t turned up. So off to the sorting office I marched.

I got there, explained the situation as they know e quite well and they said they would have a look. I then get one of them coming out beaming ‘it’s your lucky day’ they had seven rather large parcels waiting. I was about to leave when I noticed the posted dates, some as far back as last Saturday, so back to the man I go and ask what this is all about. I get a sheepish look before I am told ‘well the thing is, because you get so much post we hold the parcels for a week and then try and deliver it in one go once a week’. I didn’t shout, I didn’t kick off – after all these people do handle my post and I don’t want it vanishing forever as opposed to a few days. I simply and quietly said I would be most appreciative if my postal service could deliver the post that people are paying for at the speed they are paying for it. I then shouted and screamed a bit down the customer complaints phone line. Anyway before I make myself cross again lets get to those parcels, and some that arrived on time, which of course cheered me up no end.

First up a big thank you to you out there who read the blog and then send me emails asking me if I would like a copy of this that or the other that you have spare, want to re-home etc. None of you wanted your names mentioned but I wanted to put you first at least with a picture of your treats as I am very grateful. In the last month you have come up with some real gems such as…

  • Wise Children by Angela Carter – after I loved ‘The Bloody Chamber’
  • Taking The Devils Advice by Anne Fine – as it was mentioned in my Mum’s favourite books
  • The Child Garden & Lust by Geoff Ryan – a kind reader thought after my ‘253’ joy these would be good and one is a very sci-fi look at a future London so that will be interesting
  • Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood – you all know I love an Atwood and this is one of the few not on the TBR
  • Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue – after I loved ‘Room’ a kind reader thought I might like her 1700’s slightly sensational earlier novel

Now onto publishers some who sent a few so I have placed their books separately before a mixed bag or two at the end. First up some more guilty pleasures as Constable and Robinson sent me the latest M.C. Beaton series which they are relaunching this autumn. Cosy Edwardian murder mysteries with a new heroine and some fabulous titles.

The power of social media can bring you some treats sometimes. I tweeted that I had heard Brett Easton Ellis on the Guardian Bookclub podcast (I also heard Sarah Waters this week and it made me like ‘The Little Stranger’ even more which has grown and grown on me) a week or so ago and how listening to him talk made me want to read everyone of his books that I hadn’t, and wasn’t it funny how listening to or seeing authors talk can do that? In the post within a few days came this from Picador…

So now I do have the whole of his works to go through bar the latest as I had only read one of his books before which is the amazing (but possibly a book you don’t read twice) ‘American Psycho’ which If you haven’t read bite the bullet and try.

Vintage Books sent me a mixed bag of unsolicited (which I like as with Vintage they tend to be books that are going to become classics and I never knew I wanted to read – or had heard of – and yet once I see them I do) forthcoming treats containing…

  • The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
  • The Good Angel of Death by Andrey Kurkov
  • Look At The Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut
  • A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks (can you believe I have still never read a Faulks?)

Now for two final mixture of publishers who have sent and who are…

  • Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford (Capuchin Classics) – I will be reading this over the bank holiday weekend
  • The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi by Andrew McConnel Scott (Canongate Books)
  • Last Night In Twisted River by John Irving (Transworld Books) – another author I can’t believe I haven’t read yet
  • Something Sensational To Read On The Train by Gyles Brandreth (John Murray) I love diaries and these one sound quite salacious and gossipy so I might be dipping in and out of them for the next few months
  • Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius (Peirene Press)
  • Tarr by Wyndham Lewis (Oxford University Press)
  • The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall (Legend Press) winner of the Luke Bitmead Novel Award and being compared to Sophie Hannah

  • The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst (Sceptre) – call me a book cover slut but I do want to read this for the cover alone
  • Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (Granta)
  • The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld (Headline) – I have started this one because I really liked ‘The Interpretation of Murder’ only thing is I couldn’t remember what happened in that as it was my pre-blogging days – oops. I know I liked it though and so far I havent had to hark back to the last one!
  • Farundell by L.R. Fredericks (John Murray) – I had never head of this one before it thudded through my letter box, however reading the synopsis and seeing thoughts on it here and there I am actually ridiculously excited about reading this one over the weekend
  • The Captain’s Wife by Kirsten McKenzie (John Murray)

Right that’s the lot of lovely loot, it has been a good month or so since I did one hence the mightiness of it. Special thanks again to you the readers who have been sending. So which of these have you heard about, which do you quite fancy and what else have you read by any of the authors and what did you think? Any more tales of postal hell?

Oh and a quick note; none of these books were asked for – I have banned myself from that as have lots in the house – either the publishers contacted me or simply sent them unsolicitied. Just so you all know!

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