That’s probably a low thing to do – a post referring to my previous post, but I really have to share my surprise with you (and I’m still reading ‘Did You Ever Have a Family?’)
When I write my reviews I tend on purpose not to read other reviews, I don’t want to be biased or even unconsciously influenced into one or another interpretation of the book. I do read some reviews when I buy the book, but with me being an obsessive book-hoarder it’s usually months between buying the book and actually reading it.
That’s why all the hype about ‘The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair’ went unnoticed by me. I bought the book because I liked the cover (how shallow) and because I think it made one of the ‘summer reading’ lists and I was in my book-shopping frenzy, afraid that I will run out of things to read during vacation (wrong, as always).
After I wrote my review, I was curious if my Philip Roth association was right or wrong, so after publishing the post on Saturday I decided to look up some reviews. The first thing I found out that I wasn’t aware of was than Joël Dicker is a year younger than me and he’s Swiss, because of the book setting I assumed he’s from US. The next interesting thing was that the book had won the prestigious Goncourt Prize, I was surprised about that. I kept on reading and the more English-speaking reviews I read the more I was happy I didn’t know pretty much anything about this book before I read it.
Some reviews are harsh, I can imagine how multi-million sales, the book within a book thing and The Goncourt Prize gets the critics expectations high. One thing majority of reviews I read get hung up on is poor sergeant’s Gahalowood name, then the fact that US is shown through a series of stereotypes, another are Harry’s writing advice and dialogues. The next thing is the structure, because it is not subtle enough… of course it’s not, it’s a thriller, a page turner (some critics admitted this much).
This book is not a masterpiece, it does not reinvent, or invent for that matter, anything in literature, and yes, dialogues are sometimes a bit over the top, but I’m not sure all this warrants the reviews.
I must admit I enjoyed this book more than ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins. What do you think?