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I really have to get better at making a note of where I find out about the books that I read, because I am pretty sure that I picked The Possessions of Doctor Forrest up because it was mentioned in someone else’s blog – possibly to do with the Edinburgh book festival? Sadly I am too lazy to go and look so we shall just have to leave this as one of those little mysteries that life throws at us and I must remember to have my notebook near me when blog reading.

I do remember that wherever I found it about it my interest was captured by the description of this as a Gothic novel; in fact, the quote from David Peace on the front cover states quite categorically that this book

drags the gothic novel kicking and screaming into this new century

So I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that this novel owes a lot to stories such as Jekyll & Hyde and Faust, but brings quite a bit of its own style to the genre. And I’m right about what I’ve said about not giving too much away because oh look, there on the back cover blurb it talks about disappearances, diabolical bargains and transformations.

There are three medical men of Scottish background by birth or upbringing who have been friends since school. Hartford s a psychiatrist, Lochran a paediatric surgeon and Forrest, a cosmetic surgeon. They are all more or less discontented with their lot despite being on the surface wealthy and successful in their chosen fields. But Forrest is the most discontented of all, and when he disappears he sets off a chain of bizarre, puzzling and unpleasant events.

I have been  mulling my feelings about this novel over for a good couple of weeks since I finished reading it. I liked the structure of the book which has the story told through the diaries of Hartford and Lochran; we see the events unfolding from their individual viewpoints and are party to what they do not share with each other. Their two separate accounts are interspersed with the odd contribution from a few minor characters, giving us more of an idea of what’s going on than they could possibly have themselves.

And then of course we have the “confession” of Forrest himself.

I can’t say that I loved this book; I enjoyed the puzzle, I wanted to know what happened at the end, I enjoyed much of the writing but I didn’t feel involved. This is almost entirely because I didn’t much like any of the characters; even when awful things were happening to and around them I felt very detached, not really caring about them, just wanting to know what the secret was.

So, interesting and well written but rather cold for a book which deals with strong passions. Glad I gave it a go, not sure that I would read it again. But a good fit for RIP VI, for which this was my second read.

Well, my plan to catch up on my reading during a week of travel failed miserably. The journeys out from London inevitably required working on the train, on the journeys back I was actually too tired to concentrate and on my one overnight stay I decided to catch up on blog reading. So I dragged my copy of Pirate King all the way around England to no good purpose.

However, things have been very different this weekend. I don’t know about you but I find travelling really, really tiring, so I resolved on Saturday to do as little as possible. That allowed me to curl up late afternoon and to read Pirate King to its conclusion. And very enjoyable it was too, exactly what I needed at the end of the week. I have also just this morning completed one of the best ghost stories I have read this year, The Dead of Winter. Both of these will be reviewed shortly.

Only one new book purchase this week but it looks like a real winner:

  • Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley: can’t do better than the blurb “1818. London. Billy is a street urchin, pickpocket and petty thief. Mr Creecher is a monstrous giant of a man who terrifies all he meets. Their relationship begins as pure convenience. But a bond swiftly develops between these two misfits as their bloody journey takes them ever northwards on the trail of their target….. Victor Frankenstein.” Wonderful stuff

I feel on a bit of a roll at the moment and it’s a much more sensible working week coming up so let’s hope I can keep the reading thing going.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

The Sunday


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September 2011