Monday, 4 April 2011

Savage Lands - Clare Clark

This month the cake and biscuits were supplied by Sarah, they were enjoyed by everyone.

Four members of the bookclub didn't manage to finish this month's book, and they weren't sure they would continue with it after the meeting. The reason for this seemed to be that they found it very hard going, only managing to read a few pages at a time. We also felt that there seemed to be no major theme running through the book to give the reader something to want to follow. There were a few different themes, none of which seemed to get to a satisfactory conclusion. We weren't sure whether the dissatisfaction with the themes was to do with the writing style which we found to be very literary and not very clear. The themes also seemed not to move very fast, it felt very static as you were reading it.

Most of the bookclub became very confused about the time periods between the different chapters in the book. We needed to have a bit more information as to when things were happening, and how far apart in time different parts of the book occurred. Trying to discover these time periods by looking for clues in the text was very confusing and we would have preferred for this to be more obvious.

We did feel that the historical aspects of the book had been very well researched, they were highly evocative of the time period. The sections of the book that described how people lived, and the interactions between the "savages" and the townsfolk were very interesting. We also enjoyed the section when Elisabeth was reading her books, we felt this could have been used to better effect within the book. The descriptions of Auguste's garden and his drawings of plants were also very interesting but more could have been made of this.

The use of language in the book was excellent, with some lovely descriptive passages to do with the environment. However, the descriptions of the characters and their reactions to things was not so well done. Of the characters in the book not many of the bookclub members felt any connection to any of them. We felt they were very dry, maybe this was to do with the author being too historically accurate to the detriment of creating likeable, or realistic characters.

Overall we gave this book 4 out of 10, only a couple of people would recommend it to their friends.