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Two Recent Novels

This afternoon, I finished Claire Messud's very beautiful novel, The Emperor's Children, which I want to think about for a while, and possibly reserve for a re-reading. Ms Messud's writing has a somewhat disturbing quality, for me at least, in that it seems engagingly complex while I'm reading it, but almost unadorned as it precipitates to memory. Something was going on that I didn't fully grasp, and I expect that I'll have to read one of its sixty-seven lapidary chapters very closely to get a grip on the nature of the mastery. All I mean by this twaddle is that the novel made me vibrate - I positively trembled as 9/11 approached - but left me with no way of explaining its unquestioned power.

Looking back at some of the novels that I've read recently, I find that the only book that compares with Ms Messud's for quality is the utterly different Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman. Full disclosure: a member of Simon & Schuster's publicity staff sent me (and who knows how many other bloggers) an e-spiel about the book, offering to send me a free copy if I was interested. I was intrigued by the offer as much as anything (it was a first for me), but I was genuinely delighted by the book. It's not going to get anything like the reception that has been bestowed upon The Emperor's Chilldren, but I recommend it just as highly. You can read about it here


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