Now here is a book that has become one of those ‘must reads’ and often when a book comes with so many glowing recommendations, I tend to resist it, thinking it cannot possibly live up to expectations. And to some extent for me, this was true. It took a good discussion with my No.1 Book Group and their responses for me to persevere and finish the second half of the book – and I have to say it was rewarding. My first recommendation with this book is to treat it as a treasure to read in small chunks, as opposed to galloping through as if it were a page-turning novel. Well, indeed – I couldn’t page-turn at all at the beginning because it is so densely written with so many words (foreign and otherwise) that I needed a dictionary and atlas and an art history lesson, to decode.
Maggie Rainey-Smith is a Wellington novelist/poet/bookseller and regular guest reviewer on Beattie's Book Blog.