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Review: Three Books

February 29, 2012

Just quick reviews here:

In The Matisse Stories, A.S. Byatt produces three short stories that have been inspired by a Matisse painting. The first story follows a middle-aged woman coming face-to-face with her own morality culminating in her wrecking a hair salon; the second follows an editor and her failed painter husband and their maid and the third follows a conversation between two academics, one of which has been accused of sexual assault by a student.

The connection to Matisse isn’t specific; apart from the last story, but each story is incredibly focused on every little detail. Byatt does — wait for it — paint with words, slowly moving over a scene as if she’s studying a painting, inch-by-inch. While she certainly isn’t lost for words, I found the writing to be overwrought — it’s description without any plot and it didn’t offer me anything. I found it very dry, she never varied her sentences so it was just this prevailing sense of plodding along reading description after description of every single thing.

It wasn’t really my cup of tea.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a two, unconnected, short stories. The first — which is the more famous of the two, being made as an anime and a couple of live-action films — follows Kazuko who is accidentally exposed to a scent that allows her to time travel. The second is about Masako who is determined to find out why she’s so petrified whenever she sees a mask.

These are extremely slight, almost threadbare tales that offer nothing. It’s written in a simplistic manner, offering no depth for the characters. It’s very much like reading a summary of events. You’d be able to read it in about 30 minutes but you’ll get no substance out of it. It isn’t even good for escapism. Meh.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of fairy tales from the Harry Potter universe. You’re not going to find anything groundbreaking here. They aren’t that great and not very taxing but as a quick read you could do a lot worse.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2012 3:10 am

    Ha! I read Beedle the Bard during a readathon several years ago and your description is spot on. Think the only plus is the inclusion of the three brothers tale in the HP7 movie.

    Have been meaning to read Byatt for years. Want to start with Possession.

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