Thursday, January 30, 2014

Booked: Hild

On the strength of this NPR review, I asked for Hild by Nicola Griffith for Christmas.  I have read a couple of books by Griffith before and enjoyed them both.  This book is hard for me to explain.  Well, the book isn't hard to explain, it's a novel in which Griffith imagines the life of St. Hilda based on her extensive research of the seventh century.  How does a girl become the seer for a king and a warrior in her own right etc?  Griffith explores all of that by learning as much as she could about the time and some of the characters (and creating others) and then turning them loose.

I feel really conflicted about the book itself.  As the NPR review mentions the prose is excellent. Griffith is a skilled writer and her descriptions of everything (and I mean everything) are interesting and both vivid and imaginative.  But, it took me 462 pages to get into the book.  I slogged through it up to that point, mostly out of a sense that I would not let this book beat me.  At around page 460 the story changes a bit and picks up and by the time I got to the last page I thought "wait, you can't just stop here!"  She's apparently writing another book to continue the story.  If you had asked me at any point before the last 30 pages or so if I would consider reading a second book I would have probably tossed this book at your head.  But now that I've finished, I'm not so sure.  I think I would read more.

So that's my entirely convoluted feelings about this book (and the one to come next).  Excellent prose, slow to build story, but more of a dash toward the end.  If you happen to have read it or choose to pick it up let me know what you thought of it.  Meanwhile I am going to pick something light and breezy to read next.

1 comment:

  1. I do sometimes get annoyed when an author takes the attitude that "It's up to to you to perservere, because I'm not prepared to compromise". This does sound like a bit of a case in point. The author won't give an inch (when you're 462 pages into the damned thing without getting the feeling that you have to go on, there has to be something wrong). I remember reading a book called THE GOLDEN SPANIARD by Dennis Wheatley which made me have to read on. Wheatley himself claimed that he couldn't spell, couldn't construct a sentence, was generally a poor writer....."But I CAN tell a tale!" I absolutely had to read that sucker until 2 am just to find out the end, and I had to go to work the next day. Beautiful prose is one thing, but the ability to make the reader want to find out what happens next is vital.