Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I spent the weekend reading the latest Harry Potter book, turning the final page at 11.45 on Sunday night. Being a bit tardy in getting around to reading the novel, I have been assiduously avoiding reading any reviews or discussions on the net or in the press, so I am glad it is finally accomplished. The friend who gave me the book for my birthday was dying to discuss it with someone, so was also impatient for me to finish. It is impossible to talk about it within the hearing of those who have not read the book, so I will not reveal any spoilers here.

I suppose it was in 1998 that I first heard of the Potter books, from the very same friend who gave me the book for my birthday. The Potter books had not really taken off at that time. Having started the series I was compelled to read each of the subsequent volumes as they appeared and have seen the movies as well, except for the most recent film.

Admittedly the Harry Potter books are not what you would call great literature and even the writing leaves a lot to be desired, but they are curiously compulsive reading. They are a bit like the old fashioned children’s stories I loved in my childhood, like Tom Brown’s Schooldays and other such like school stories. I did a two-year stint in a boarding school myself, though that school was nothing like Hogwarts. Even so, I recall peculiar ghostly occasions where alone in the dormitory over a weekend, another girl and I were simultaneously struck with a unknown terror that caused us to stop whatever it was we were doing and remain still and mute for however long the incident lasted. It was very strange and spooky.

Back to Harry Potter…

This last book, I can assure you answers all the questions raised in the earlier books and loose ends are neatly tied up. The ending is curiously low key, but satisfying. It does however take a very circuitous route in getting there. What the deathly hallows are and how they affect the outcome, I’ll leave you to find out.

Now, having dispatched Harry Potter, I can get back to serious reading. Last week I started reading Jim Crace’s Pest House continuing with my fictional dystopia theme. I’ve barely read half so will reserve judgement on it until I finish, but so far it’s pretty interesting.

After that I intend to read the new William Gibson novel Spook Country (another birthday present which will hopefully arrive from Amazon soon).

I’ve also decided to re-read Robertson Davies and recently worked my way through his so-called Salterton Trilogy. Robertson Davies, now deceased, was a well-known Canadian writer, most famous for the novel Fifth Business, which was quite popular in the late 1970s. He is a very fine writer, urbane and witty with wonderful characterisations. There are laugh-out-loud passages in his novels and a sharp intelligence is evident in his observations of human follies and foibles. He wrote three trilogies – the Salterton Trilogy, the Deptford Trilogy and the Cornish Trilogy – and was two thirds into a fourth at his death, so he’ll keep me occupied for a while. Each book in the separate trilogies can be read alone as they are not necessarily chronological in sequence, rather they share common characters and explore different themes. He’s well worth reading if you haven’t already done so.

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