Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Review #623 - Lovesong by Alex Miller


My Rating: 2/5

Source: Book Club

Buy: The Book Depository


Seeking shelter in a Parisian cafe from a sudden rainstorm, John Patterner meets the exotic Sabiha and his carefully mapped life changes forever. Resonant of the bestselling Conditions of Faith, Alex Miller's keenly awaited new novel tells the deeply moving story of their lives together, and of how each came undone by desire.

Strangers did not, as a rule, find their way to Chez Dom, a small, rundown Tunisian cafe on Paris' distant fringes. Run by the widow Houria and her young niece, Sabiha, the cafe offers a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers working at the great abattoirs of Vaugiraud, who, like them, had grown used to the smell of blood in the air. But when one day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm, the quiet simplicities of their lives are changed forever. John is like no-one Sabiha has met before - his calm grey eyes promise her a future she was not yet even aware she wanted. Theirs becomes a contented but unlikely marriage - a marriage of two cultures lived in a third - and yet because they are essentially foreigners to each other, their love story sets in train an irrevocable course of tragic events.

Years later, living a small, quiet life in suburban Melbourne, what happened at Vaugiraud seems like a distant, troubling dream to Sabiha and John, who confides the story behind their seemingly ordinary lives to Ken, an ageing, melancholy writer. It is a story about home and family, human frailties and passions, raising questions of morals and purpose - questions have no simple answer.
Lovesong is a simple enough story in many ways - the story of a marriage, of people coming undone by desire, of ordinary lives and death, love and struggle - but when told with Miller's distinctive voice, which is all intelligence, clarity and compassion, it has a real gravitas, it resonates and is deeply moving. Into the wonderfully evoked contemporary settings of Paris and Melbourne, memories of Tunisian family life, culture and its music are tenderly woven.

I read this book for the book club that my mum and I joined and this is definitely a book that was outside my comfort zone. 

This book begins by telling you the ending of the book then showing you how it got there. I had mixed feelings about this method. 

On one hand, I liked that we knew the ending because it added more intrigue to the story when it didn't look possible for the story to end the way it did. 

On the other hand, I felt like knowing the ending ruined some of the potential suspense that could have developed. 

The major problem I had with this book was the character Sabiha. I have never come across a character anywhere near as selfish or plainly unlikable as her. She ruined the entire book for me.

The title is a little misleading as when I was handed this book at book club I was dreading this being a romance book, but it is anything but. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the writing style but obviously the author is too good at writing horrible characters. 

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