Saturday, May 28, 2005

Very 'Flowers in the Attic'

Just finished reading Kelly Braffet's Josie and Jack. There's no doubt this is an excellent first novel, but in the end, I didn't like it as much as I expected to. Partly it's a bit too 'literary' for my taste (though there are some really striking passages: "Suddenly I was intensely unhappy: forceful, tidal-wave unhappiness, the kind that washes over you and fills your ears and your eyes and your lungs. Sometimes when I feel that way it helps to get drunk, but it's like shoring up a high-rise with playing cards. Sooner or later something happens--a word or a song or a turn of phrase or, more often, an unwelcome memory--and everything comes crashing down"). Partly it suffered from comparison to two rather similar books I'd just read--literally I started them all the same week, this was the one I put aside--I liked The Bitch Posse most, it's brilliantly well-written and (I am sorry to say) most fits my memory of what being a teenage girl feels like. Then I read gods in Alabama, which isn't nearly so remarkable but is very delightful in its own way, with an extremely attractive main character & a similarly persuasive account of teenager-ness. So Josie and Jack is a very good novel, don't get me wrong, but I enjoyed it less than either of the others. Trying to put my finger on what felt wrong, I decided that this one romanticizes adolescence in a way the others refuse to. There's a Goth-y, Flowers-in-the-Attic, doomed-tubercular-Shelley-type sensibility here that I didn't share even when I was a teenager and have relatively little sympathy for now. I wished Josie would just get a temp job and move on! Seriously....

Spent the last couple days reading a really EXCELLENT novel that I will blog about elsewhere, so won't write more about now. It's Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. In three words: Believe The Hype!


  1. Oh, completely agree about THE HISTORIAN. All the hype's justified and thosee 660-odd pages absolutely fly.

    As for J&J, I think because I read it some months before THE BITCH POSSE I wouldn't have made such comparisons, and so I think I took to the Gothic sensibility a bit more. And there were times when I wanted to shake Josie for her passivity but I thought Braffet did a great job in showing how Josie got that way, how she put all her faith in one unreliable (to say the least) boy.

  2. Yes, Braffet's definitely done a good thing with the abuse-victim side of it; I think I'm just not the ideal reader for the book, as I'm pretty hostile to that Gothic sensibility thing... Anyway, a good book and well worth reading.