Thursday, June 14

Book Review: Beatrice and Virgil


Title: Beatrice and Virgil

Author: Yann Martel

Pages: 213

Summary: When Henry receives a letter from an elderly taxidermist, it poses a puzzle that he cannot resist. As he is pulled further into the world of this strange and calculating man, Henry becomes increasingly involved with the lives of a donkey and a howler monkey—named Beatrice and Virgil—and the epic journey they undertake together.

My Rating: 4.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: My second time with the author and this time I have to say, I was less than impressed. An interesting idea of a play, within in the story but in the end it didn't work for me. There were too many  elements that didn't work for me.

One of my biggest issues was the story within the story. Sometimes it works, and other times like in this case, it doesn't. The two stories didn't seem to join together properly, the devices to bring the main story and the story within the story didn't seem to fit together. It felt it was forced for the sake of things, and both stories seemed to be sacrificed in plot and development of characters to make room for the other.  I also wasn't a fan of the characters and found that there development didn't go anywhere. It felt like Henry the writer was in the same place as he was at the beginning of the book, and I found that overall, he was a unlikeable character. Because Henry was the narrator of the book, I think it also affected how I felt about it and how it was told.

Yann Martel is a good writer, and he does like to make a metaphorical point about an important subject, and make the reader think abstractly, but in this book, I found that all of that was lost in the plot devices meant to bring it to the reader. In the end, definitely not the book for me.  

Would I recommend it to read: I don't think I would.  Perhaps his other book Life of Pi, but not this one.
What to read next: Life of Pi



11 comments:

  1. I've heard so much blah about this book I'm wondering now if I'll ever try to read it, even though I did like his first so much.

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    1. I liked his first one, but it wasn't until the reveal at the end. This one is blah, nothing like his first. From my experience I'd say skip it.

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  2. The book has so many allusions and intertexts that contribute to the meaning. First reading might be a little boring but when you come to think of some of the elements such as Games for Gustav and the Flaubert short story, the book becomes haunting!

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    1. I doubt I'd ever get back to it to re-read it. I'm glad it was a great/haunting experience for you. But there wasn't anything there for me. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  3. I heard Yann Martel in an interview once basically imply that once his editor got a hold of Life of Pi, it was almost unrecognizable. Maybe he should have passed this one off to the same editor. Maria's comment above is one of the very few positive reviews I've read.

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    1. That's a interesting about Life of Pi. I didn't enjoy the book until the end reveal. I'm interested what the book was like before the editor got to it. I have seen a few positive reviews, but for the most part, a lot of reviewers and readers didn't seem to be engaged by the book like his first.

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  4. I'd been wondering whether to read this book or not. Like everyone else, I loved Life of Pi, but I've not heard good things about Beatrice and Virgil, and you've just confirmed that opinion.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Looking at yours, I hadn't realized we were in so many of the same challenges together!

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    1. I think Life of Pi set the bar so high for him, this book didn't live to it's standards, becuse there are as you mentioned, so many who haven't said good things about it compared to Life of Pi.

      Your welcome, I hope you're doing well in your challenges.

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  5. I am not familiar with Yann Martel's work as a whole. I have been planning to read Life of Pi for some time, but have not seen nor have I researched his other books. Thank you for your review.

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    1. Life of Pi is well worth reading, just stick with the book until the end. I didn't pay much attention to the reviews on this one, I just nabbed it up from the library, as I wanted to try the author out again.

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