Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Vellum: The Book of All Hours - Hal Duncan

Author: Hal Duncan

Vellum is a book that I'd been meaning to read for quite a while. It was always on prominent display in my nearby bookshops and the rough textured cover of the paperback version hinted at a great read. From reading collected reviews on LibraryThing and, it appears that public opinion is pretty divided on the merits of this novel. And I'm afraid that I'm coming down on the side of the confused and bewildered.

On one hand this book is rich with cultural references, old legends and a grand scale. On the other hand, it moves back and forth through time and rambles from character to character. After an initially intriguing opening section (which lured me in) the book deteriorated. I gave it the 100 page test (read 100 pages and see how you feel then) and because I don't like giving up on books, it got the 200 page test. Then due to having to wait in a hospital for 2 hours it got to over 300 pages. It was then I realised how many of the seemingly disparate threads in the story were being woven together, but at that point I didn't really care anymore. The non-linear narrative was just too disjointed for me.

The lack of distinct characters in this book, their replacement with overarching characters that transcend time and location is confusing and for me, offputting. It's clear that this is a book into which the author invested a lot of time and research. It's just not for everyone and it's not for me. I definitely won't be picking up the sequel.

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