TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer
My bookish friend Norma and I were discussing the popular series of vampire novels for Young Adults, written by Stephanie Meyer. Neither of us had read any of her books, and were wondering what made them such a huge success. So I read ‘Twilight’ for research purposes. My curiosity is now satisfied. However, had I not seen the movie version, I don’t think I would have persevered with the book. I enjoyed the movie, which I saw prior to reading the book. There were pages and pages of dialogue consisting of vapid teenage mumbling or angst, which didn’t advance the plot one iota. Teenage preoccupations and obsessions are not very interesting at best. But then, I’m not a teenager. The dialogue reminded me of murky marine encrustations on a sunken ship’s hull. The best thing about the books are the covers. They are dramatic, sexy and striking in their black, red and white artwork. In fact, the book covers are absolutely brilliant. What a pity the contents don’t follow suit. Again and again the author has her characters sighing, or (worse yet) smirking, followed by numerous repetitive descriptions of the Vampire’s marble beauty, perfection, glorious eyes, etc. etc. I discovered to my utter amazement that the author is a Mormon, and attended BYU (Brigham Young University). I wonder what the Mormon position is on the topic of the Undead? Much has been made of the Abstinence Factor in her novels, it’s been hailed as a bright beacon of purity in the hormonal swamp of teenage lust. If we’re talking about lust and the Undead I’m much more enthusiastic about Anne Rice’s vampire novels – they have a lush, erotic sensual quality which is truly bewitching. And the quality of the writing is a hundred times better. No more Stephanie Meyer for me. Lead me to the Vampire Lestat, please ..
THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS by Donna Leon
Another Inspector Brunetti detective novel, set in Venice. It’s as much about the city, its streets and canals, its citizens, its food, as it is about the actual crime. In fact the crime only appears on page 99 of this 276 page book, which is an interesting approach for a crime novel. A sub-theme to the murder of the gypsy child was a religious fraud scam, which I thought was quite daring for an Italian based novel. The info and the chapters on the “nomads” (PC-speak for Gypsies) was fascinating. They really are a tribe outside of middle class European life, and slip like water through societies’ nets of rules and admin. I loved the portrayal of Brunetti as a family man. He’s always nipping home to lunch, and the reader is given a rundown of the dishes prepared by his wife. We also hear about his kids’ homework, and school life. Donna Leon gives plenty of domestic and local detail which give her novels authenticity without the ponderous thoroughness of Stieg Larson. It sounds as if I’ve really got it in for poor old SL : not so – I thoroughly enjoyed his Millenium Trilogy, but phew! they can be hard work.