A Perfect Gentle Knight by Kit Pearson seemed to have an identity crisis. The main character is 11, and it read a lot like a children’s book, but it was set up as a baby boomer memoir, casually referring to events and objects that would be foreign to 11 year olds without any context or explanation. The themes are big: loss, mental illness, coming of age. I think perhaps they are too big for this 164 page format, and too big for 11 year old Corrie to do justice to on her own. I would have loved to see this story twice as long so the characters could have been more finely drawn, the dialogue used more to advance the plot, and to create more of an immersion experience. It felt like the story moved in thick chunks, rather than flowing. I think 60 year olds who grew up in Vancouver would find this a lovely nostalgic book, but I think it misses the mark as a kids’ book, which is a shame, because it could have been fantastic if 1950’s Vancouver could have become as real as, say 1900’s PEI is in the Anne of Green Gables books
watering elephants August 31, 2011
I just finished reading Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants which is my book club’s September read. It’s hard to say what I loved most about this book. Sara Gruen is a masterful storyteller, and she does a brilliant job of flashing between the present in a nursing home and the 3.5 months in depression era Benzini Brothers Circus. Her narrator is protagonist “90 or 93” year old Jacob. It is a testament to Gruen’s skill that he rings entirely true. She has thoroughly captured the frustration of strong mind being caught inside a feeble body as Jacob remembers the joys and horrors of life on a circus train.
I remember loving circus books as a kid, and plainly that hasn’t changed. When I reached the last 50 pages, I couldn’t see how on earth it’d be possible to wrap all the conflicts in so little time, but she does. I loved the ending as well. I didn’t see it coming and it made me happy.
Great book. Highly recommended.