17 February, 2010

Book Review #1 'Lost by Gregory Maguire'

"Winifred Rudge, a bemused writer struggling to get beyond the runaway success of her mass-market astrology book, travels to London to jump-start her new novel about a woman who is being haunted by the ghost of Jack the Ripper. Upon her arrival, she finds that her stepcousin and old friend John Comestor has disappeared, and a ghostly presence seems to have taken over his apartment in the nineteenth-century rowhouse once owned by Winnie's great-great-grandfather. Is it the spirit of this ancestor, who, family legend claims, was Charles Dickens's childhood inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge? Could it be the ghostly remains of Jack the Ripper? Or a phantasm derived from a more arcane and insidious origin?

Winnie begins to investigate, but John's erstwhile girlfriend, Allegra, is aggressively unhelpful, and his downstairs neighbor, the cat-obsessed Mrs. Maddingly, is growing stranger by the day. Gripped by inspiration and desperation alike, Winnie finds herself the unwilling audience for a drama of specters and shades, some from her family's peculiar history and some from her own unvanquished past."
synopsis by Powell's Books

I'm going to start off saying that I have read four of Gregory Maguire's novels and I am a fan. I enjoy his prose style but I do need to be in the right frame of mind to read one as they take a long time to get through with his mixture of literary techniques and great levels of description. I am by nature a fast reader but when it comes to Maguire's novels I can only read so much at once before my head explodes. Some people call that a mark of a good writer but I've heard some people call it tedious. None the less, Lost like all Maguire's novels in my opinion was still in it's own way, good. However of the other four Maguire books I have read, Lost was my least favourite.

The protagonist, Winnie Rudge did not appeal to me at all, in fact she grated on me. It was incredibly lucky that the supporting characters were far more diverse and interesting along with the twists and turns of the good and sometimes confusing (in a way that makes you want to make it to the end) way of the plot. Back to Winnie however, I found her dull at times and very hard to empathize with her (when I empathize or sympathize for the character I enjoy a book much more). The book was also slow in places. The plot itself was a good one, I love mysteries and ghost stories and one of my favourite things about Gregory Maguire is that he takes a well known story and turns it on it's head. With Lost, unlike in his other novels, the story of Scrooge's likeness to Winnie's descendant peters out and is replaced with something far more interesting. I love Maguire's ability to make ghosts and possession work in the 21st Century to a point where while you're reading it you could actually believe it could happen but at the same time his characters are so well developed you could see it just being a figment of Winnie's imagination due to what has happened in her own life.

Although, Lost is a good novel and I would recommend it to people who were looking for an intricate mystery plot that does involve doses of ghosts and possession, I will not read it again. It took me a while to make it to the end and although the ending was good enough for the novel, I did feel robbed as I didn't really find out what happened to Winnie really, or the rest of the characters. I have to admit to being a fan of a books that do tie up endings, perhaps he is leaving it open for a sequel? Personally I can't see it.

Would Recommend For: Ghost story lovers, those who like challenging reads.
If You Like This Try: Other Maguire novels Wicked Trilogy, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Rating: 5/10

1 comment:

  1. Sounds interesting. With books like this I find it very hard to get going but once I'm into the story I simply cannot wrench myself away. Maybe I'll check it out of the library rather than buy it. :)