1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    In the Shape of a Boar - Lawrence Norfolk

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Gannon, Sep 21, 2007.

    The story of a mythical boar sent as a plague to the people of Ancient Greece who is hunted and ultimately reappears in 70s Paris. We start in Greece, before moving to the second part of the story which is shared between war time (WW2) Romania and 70s Paris. However the boar in the 70s is somewhat altered to that of the legend. This is a decent premise which got me to buy the book.

    This is an engaging story with plus points aplenty but a substantial drawback. Norfolk commences in the vein of classic epic literature from the period in which his story is set. For the same reasons that the Iliad is very difficult to read, and certain parts of the Bible, so is are the first 40 pages of this, which is off putting. He lists character after character, figure after figure, reference after reference - similar to pieces like the Iliad. His work is one of fiction, slightly grounded in reality (if you count legend as reality). By basing his text on epics the readabilty that the 2nd half is lost is massively offset and upset by this first half.

    However the second half (or two thirds) is a entertaining and involving story with credible but extraordinary characters on whom he paints the events of the past, but dresses them in modern clothes. His history his spot on and you learn a bit too - which is never a bad thing. If one were to start reading at the shift in time between Ancient Greece and Romania circa 1943-44 you would have a good read, not outstanding, but enthralling nevertheless whilst only being slightly confuseed as to what had gone before.

    Verdict: A little too clever for its own good at the expense of readability.

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