Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Within the book group that I participate in, we all get to contribute ideas to our reading list and then vote on them. This is one of the books that I had recommended and was very excited that it was selected! When I had originally did some reading about the book a while back, it was getting rave reviews. To me, it sounded fascinating!!

Well, it came time to read it and at first, I did not know what to think. I was having a hard time getting into the story. It started out very slow. I did not know if it was because I was personally in a bit of reading slump or not. When my group finally got together to chat about it, I discovered that I was not the only one that felt it was slow-going to begin with. However, now that I am finished with the book, that is probably the only negative thing that I have to say about it . . . it is slow starting out! Once you get into the story, particularly once David meets Roland, things really begin to pick up and it was hard to put down after that!! And, the ending . . . so worth the wait! It was AMAZING!! In fact, I will be adding this book to my list of all-time favorites!!

In The Book of Lost Things, Connolly puts a unique twist on all of our favorite fables and fairy tales. The tales were not the ones that we probably all grew up on. They were the original tales! (How many of you actually know the original tales? They tend to be darker than the Disney versions for sure!!) Anyways, for those interested, here is a quick synopsis from the back cover . . .

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

This book was absolutely fascinating and equally enjoyable! I found it interesting that there was a recurring theme of women being the evil doers in the story (it all makes sense really considering the role of Rose!). It's interesting to see that Browning has influenced another author (in addition to Stephen King in his Dark Tower series) to write about Roland's life. It tended to be gruesome in many parts, but it was an intriguing gruesome (if that doesn't sound too morbid!). And, the ending was not your happy endings like in our modern fairy tales . . . more like some of the originals maybe? . . . but it was one that was more realistic and genuine than any of the recent books that I have. And, I will even admit publicly that I shed a few tears!

My copy of this book contains a huge section at the back of the book that is an analysis of how each fable fits into David's story. I would almost go so far to say that I enjoyed this part just as much as the story itself!! It was so intriguing to be able to read some of the original tales, the origins of the tales, and Connolly's thoughts on them. If you have the opportunity to check out this version, I highly recommend it! It was fascinating to read what stories have fascinated and inspired the author and it really got me to thinking about which of these tales have the same effect on me. I have a book that has been sitting on my shelf by the Brothers Grimm. Maybe I will start reviewing and looking at more of these stories here! I learned so much and the author has inspired me to go back and read them.

In the meantime, which fables or fairy tales have inspired or fascinated you? For me, I think it was probably Hansel and Gretel. Why? I think it demonstrated just how smart and resilient children can be even in the most dire situations!

Anyways, I want to end with a quote from Connolly in an interview he did about this book. It just makes so much sense to me and I love, love, love it!!

"I think the act of reading imbues the reader with a sensitivity toward the outside world that people who don't read can sometimes lack. I know it seems like a contradiction in terms; after all, reading is such a solitary, internalizing act that it appears to represent a disengagement from day-to-day life. But reading, and particularly the reading of fiction, encourages us to view the world in new and challenging ways. I have always believed that fiction acts as a prism, taking the reality of our existence and breaking it down into its constituent parts, allowing us to see it in a completely different form. It allows us to inhabit the consciousness of another, which is a precursor to empathy, and empathy is, for me, one of the marks of a decent human being."

1 comment:

  1. You've put me in the mood for a re-read of this book. I loved it the first time too! I'll have to make some time for this book again.


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