September saw our first ever fantasy book and although only a relatively small group, gave us plenty to talk about! We all thought it was a good read, with one member loving it! The feedback from the majority though, that it wouldn’t make them necessarily read another of Gaiman’s books.
Although the book is billed as one for adults, we came to the conclusion that it was more likely for young adults. Over all, the flow was good and members felt sorrow for the main character and loved the ‘Hempstock’ ladies who we concluded were based on a trio of popular mythology i.e Macbeth etc. The feminist aspect of the Hempstocks also didn’t go un-noticed, as they merrily lived their lives without men.
The fantasy aspect of the book was one which inspired the biggest part of our discussions. Most of the members found it hard to establish between the reality and fantasy aspect, with it being a blurred line between the two. Where as most of us came to a point in the book and accepted the fantasy elements, it grieved another member who in particular couldn’t get over the bucket scene, where Lettie had carried the ocean and the boy had stepped into it. We concluded that the best way of conquering this was to just go with the flow, as all our brains are wired differently.
There were parts of the book that didn’t sit well together or ‘jarred’ the storyline. In particular we all agreed that the ending could have been stronger and feel the author missed a trick by not establishing how the experience had changed the boy as an adult. It fact the running theme of the book was how you react to things differently as a child and adult and feel this wasn’t explored to its potential.
Although we agreed that the fantasy parts of the book were good, we did feel the book was a very dark version of Hansel and Gretal and found the scene where the Father was trying to drown his son in the bath very unsettling.
To conclude, all agreed that this wouldn’t have been a book they wouldn’t have chosen to read, but all seemed pleased with the experience of reading it!