I don't think I have ever written a book review for a proper novel before. (It's usually all children's books here.) So turns out this is a first for me!
I never seem to get time to read books. Since we started home-schooling and having all three kids with me all day I don't even get time to go to the loo in peace - so reading a book is usually totally out of the question.
But when I saw that BritMums had started a book club, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to ringfence some 'me-time' that I never usually get. As I am the sort of person who sticks to any kind of commitment I make, I knew that if I signed up to take part, then I would HAVE to make time to read the book.
So onto the book. It is Ancient Light by John Banville. In all honesty, I really struggled with the book at first. For around the first third of the book, I found that I wasn't enjoying the storyline, I wasn't enjoying the characters. I felt no connection or empathy with any of the characters. I very nearly quit reading it and as I already mentioned that would have been a big decision for me because I had made the commitment to read the book!
I decided to stick with it a bit longer, deciding that if I still felt the same way by the half-way mark then I would stop reading it. But half way through we start to build up a better picture of the 'now' part of the main character's life and this part of the storyline drew me in more.
The whole book flits between memories of the past recalling his relationship at age 15 with the 35 year old Mrs Gray who was the mother of his best friend, and his current experiences as an older actor, late in his career, living with the loss of his grown-up pregnant daughter.
Even at the beginning of the book, at the point where I wasn't enjoying the storyline at all, I did find the style of writing different. Refreshing. Written in the first person and cleverly including musings and apparently random thoughts which although deliberately injected into the text, appear to be the natural flow of the thought process.
There were many many words that were beyond the level of my own vocabulary. I found, however, that in the same way that a child can still make sense of a sentence without necessarily understanding the full meaning of every word, I too was able to capture the gist of those more complex words.
As we navigated our way through Alex's life, both past and present, we do get some answers at the very end of the book. This helps the reader make some sense of what had happened those 50 years previously. Plenty of questions remained unanswered - which makes for an uncomfortable ending if you like closure.
Whilst it is not a book that I would chose to read again, I am really glad that I did persevere and read it all the way through as I did find myself looking forward to my reading time towards the second half of the book.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Ancient Light by Penguin / Britmums bookclub for the purposes of this review. All opinions given here are my own.