Archive for the ‘Novel of Place’ Category

Bryce Courtenay – The Power of One

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

I’m about three-quarters of the way through The Power of One, a novel set in South Africa about a boy who eventually becomes boxing’s Welterweight Champion of the World.  Boxing is not ordinarily a topic I care much about, but this turns out to be a good book.  I like the characters.  They seem quite real.  And there’s the occasional trenchant turn of a phrase.

There’s an abridged version with the same title for younger readers.  Read the unabridged version.

Ann Patchett, State of Wonder

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I finished Anne Patchett’s State of Wonder.  I am pleased to report that I enjoyed it all the way through to the end and I recommend it to you without hesitation.

The book’s headline premise is this: A researcher in the Amazon has discovered a tribe whose women remain fertile their entire lives.  A drug company that wants to commercialize the discovery has lost contact with the researcher and sends a pharmacologist, Marina Singh (the protagonist) down to Brazil to find out what is going on and what really happened to the last pharmacologist they sent down (he is reported to have died of a tropical fever and buried in the jungle).

I personally didn’t think such a drug would be a big hit, and the reaction of the women in the Writers Group today (when I told them the premise) thought it wouldn’t be a boon to any woman over sixty under any circumstances.  It’s not giving anything away to say that Patchett’s protagonist doesn’t think it’s a great idea either.  But, luckily, that is neither here nor there as far as the story is concerned.

The characters are interesting, the settings are nicely drawn, and the plot is believable enough (believe it or not).  If there’s a fault, it’s in the opening pages that take place at the pharmaceutical company headquarters in Minnesota, but once the heroine is on her way to Brazil, the plot starts to move and it’s a good read to the end.