Tuesday, 14 June 2016

#BookReview: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker, Sam Taylor (Translator)

Blurb
August 30, 1975: the day fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods, never to be heard from again; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.

Thirty-three years later, Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of the country’s most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer’s block as his publisher’s deadline looms. But Marcus’s plans are violently upended when Harry is suddenly and sensationally implicated in the cold-case murder of Nola Kellergan—whom, he admits, he had an affair with. As the national media convicts Harry, Marcus launches his own investigation, following a trail of clues through his mentor’s books, the backwoods and isolated beaches of New Hampshire, and the hidden history of Somerset’s citizens and the man they hold most dear. To save Harry, his own writing career, and eventually even himself, Marcus must answer three questions, all of which are mysteriously connected: Who killed Nola Kellergan? What happened one misty morning in Somerset in the summer of 1975? And how do you write a book to save someone’s life?
 


My Review
This book has been on my TBR pile since May 2015 when someone recommended it to me following a discussion about books. I proceeded to download a sample from Amazon, after which I wanted to read what happened next.

First off, I realised that the book was originally published in French, and then later translated into English and other languages. As someone who speaks both English and French, I know how difficult it is to translate from one to the other and keep the same meaning and effect.

The story is the account of Marcus Goldman, an author whose first novel has achieved phenomenal success. Now gripped with writers' block and a legitimate fear of his next novel not living up to expectation, he retreats to the home of his college professor and friend - also a writer - who later becomes the subject of a scandal. Now Marcus is determined to proof his friend's innocence, a journey that will force him to face his writer's block and also lead him to the subject of his next novel.

It's been a while since I've been engrossed in a book as I was with this one. Maybe it is the fact that two of the primary characters were writers and an aspect of the book deals with publishing. I enjoyed the friendship between Marcus and his mentor, Harry, as well as the goings on in a small American town. The story gets us to consider our feelings/opinions about paedophilia, unsolved crimes, secrets, love and friendship.

One major thing didn't work for me: Because the story is told in so many pieces, and not in chronological order, there are many scenes that related some other previous scene. The problem is that the author repeated the previous scene verbatim, which I found to be unnecessary.

A couple of other cons I noticed are: for his age, Harry Quebert really seemed childish in some places, both in speech and conduct. Of course, this could have been the author's intention because it worked in some places and not it others.

Finally, the writing could have used some tightening up or re-wording in some parts of the book. I assumed this was a result of the translation from French to English, so since it didn't slow me down or dim my enjoyment of the story itself, I wasn't particularly bothered.

This story has won a lot of awards, and I personally found it enjoyable. If you have the time and enjoy what I'd consider and alternative love-cum-thriller novel, you should check this one out.

4.5 stars!




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