Saturday, February 1, 2014

Book Report #1 - Aspects of Love

This blog was meant to be dedicated to my own writing - but since that is still going slow and not very well, I might as well blog about my reading. After all, you get often advised to read a lot when you want to write.

I've been reading at least 1 book per month for the past few years. This might sound not so exciting for many people who devour more books, but that's what my free time and other interests and comfortable reading speed allow, usually I end up with 14 to 16 books in a year. It depends on how many pages they have and how interesting they are.

A few weeks ago I started regular cinema reviews on my other blog (livejournal), and this will be something similar. So there might be spoilers, although I usually don't go into much detail. On the other hand, the books I read are usually not the most recent publications. 

The first book I finished in 2014 was "Aspects of Love" by David Garnett. It's only a rather short one and for some reason I can't fathom I own a hardback, German version of it. Perhaps it was a bargain I just bought when I was in the mood, or I got it back when I preferred to read in my native language instead of English.
One thing is sure, I wanted to see what the original story behind Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical of the same title was like. I never saw the show and only own the CDs, which leaves you with some gaps concerning the complete story. And this is a rather tangled one.
As far as I know, the musical follows the book quite literally. It's about a young and very impulsive man, Alexis, who falls in love with the slightly older but no less impulsive actress Rose. She in turn, leaves her young lover for his uncle George, when they meet for the very first time. Of course, George is much older than Rose, but she loves his character as well as his body, and he adores her. So they stay together for many years and later even have a daughter, Jenny. In this book that means, however, that both have affairs the other knows about (Rose even with Alexis again, who once tried to kill her out of jealousy).
Eventually Alexis falls in love with Jenny, who seems at the same time to be much more mature than her years and who prefers to stay a child when growing up means hurting other people. Although it seems like a circle is closing when Jenny wants to become Alexis' lover, he refuses her and tells her to wait until she's really an adult. In the meantime he apparently falls in love and goes away with George's long-time affair Giulietta - at his uncle's funeral, no less.
It's not a bad book, but I wouldn't say it's well written either. There might be love at first sight and you probably can love more than one person at the same time, age-difference doesn't need to be a problem and a fascinating personality can account for much - but it feels wrong and artificial if so many of these extraordinary aspects appear in one place.
What I find most odd about this story is that despite all, the apparent hero Alexis is rather likable until the end, when he betrays Jenny although it is for her own good. The girl seems to be the true hero, but she doesn't appear until halfway through the book.

From "Aspects of Love", I've learned that passion and love can have take on many shapes and that unexpected and seemingly irrational actions of the characters can keep one reading.
On the other hand, I would like to show better in my own stories why characters change their feelings and why their actions are not as irrational as they might appear at first.

I would also like to mention that I am currently reading two other books, too, something I usually don't do.
There is "Les Miserables" from Victor Hugo, which is far more boring and weirdly written than I could have ever imagined.
And Stephen King's "Wolves of the Calla", which is just a very, very thick book, so I simply could not finish it in a regular month. 

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