Saturday, December 27, 2008

Birchwood by John Banville

John Banville writes exquisite, lyrical prose, while telling an enthralling story. This novel, set in Ireland in the days of the potato famines, is divided into two parts. Gabriel Godkin returns to his ancestral home after the death of his father, and while cleaning up the broken glass and repairing windows, he begins to recall his childhood. As part two begins, the young Gabriel has run away and joined a circus in an attempt to find what he believes to be his lost twin sister. Eventually, the story comes full circle and he returns to Birchwood.

At first glance the two parts of the story seem disjointed, but Banville ties things up neatly at the end. The reality I envisioned in part one, clashed with the reality in part two, but the brief part three resolved all these threads into a neat package.

This is my second Banville (after the Booker prize winning, The Sea). I have four more of his books, so I will be working my way through them in 2009. He has written 13 titles in all, so I will have to track down those others.

If you have never read Banville, start with The Sea. You will be hooked. Five stars

-Chiron, 12/27/08

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