Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review: Asunder by Chloe Aridjis

By Chloe Aridjis 
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Source: Publisher
Summary: Marie's job as a guard at the National Gallery in London offers her the life she always wanted, one of invisibility and quiet contemplation. But amid the hushed corridors of the Gallery surge currents of history and violence, paintings whose power belies their own fragility. There also lingers the legacy of her great-grandfather Ted, the museum guard who slipped and fell moments before reaching the suffragette Mary Richardson as she took a blade to one of the gallery's masterpieces on the eve of the First World War. After nine years there, Marie begins to feel the tug of restlessness. A decisive change comes in the form of a winter trip to Paris, where, with the arrival of an uninvited guest and an unexpected encounter, her carefully contained world is torn open.

Asunder is a rich, resonant novel of beguiling depths and beautiful strangeness, exploring the delicate balance between creation and destruction, control and surrender.

Review: I really wanted to love this book. I visited London over the summer and the National Gallery was one of the favorite museums I visited while I was there. So I thought reading a book about a woman who was a guard at that museum would be really cool. While the London aspect of this book was awesome, the rest just fell flat for me. 

As a guard in London's National Gallery, Marie is used to living a life of invisibility. After nine years, though, Marie's starting to want something more. So when the chance to take a two week trip to Paris comes up, Marie can't pass up the offer. Marie continues to contemplate life and what she really wants out of it. 

Like I said, this book had so much potential. In the end, though, I didn't really care all that much about Marie's character. Her hobbies were strange to me (Moths? What?) and her life wasn't interesting to me. I wasn't excited to read what would happen to her next or see where she ended up. 

The setting of this book was what made it worth reading to me. I loved reading about how she moved about London and what rooms she would work in while she was guarding at the National Gallery. I absolutely love London, so I was fascinated when she talked about her life in London. 

While the setting was great, nothing else really stuck out to me. I wasn't a fan of the other characters (like her friend Daniel or his poet friend who visited while they were in Paris) and the whole women's rights activists plot didn't make sense the me. Maybe I just missed something, but I didn't really get why they were trying to destroy art and how they had to do with Marie now when what happened with the one lady was when Marie's grandpa was a guard at the Gallery. Like I said, a bit confusing. 

In the end, this was just an okay read. It was short, so it went by pretty quickly, but nothing super interesting ever happened. It's just a book about a woman thinking about her life. And that's pretty much it.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely loved this book. I can appreciate it wasn't for everyone, maybe it's an acquired taste but everything there was for a reason. It's a sort of 'slow burn' kind of book rather than a plot heavy one but every little thing that happens adds to the final conclusion. I guess you can say it's about passivity and also taking charge of your life. Marie is a really passive character but throughout the course of the book she becomes fascinated with people who break the rules and rebel - eventually she can rebel herself. There is a great interview with Aridjis in the Economist here :


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