Booth by Karen Joy Fowler was longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize and is a piece of historical fiction about the family of John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot dead Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Fowler has deliberately ensured that Booth and Lincoln’s assassination are not the focus here, and instead turns to the background of his relatives spanning a whole century. His English father, Junius, was a bigamist and a celebrated Shakespearean actor who had 10 children with Mary Ann Holmes in rural Maryland after he abandoned his first wife. Fowler is certainly a versatile author – ‘Booth’ is about as different as it gets from the modern setting of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves which was shortlisted for the Prize in 2014 – but I’m not too surprised her latest novel didn’t make the shortlist which was announced earlier this month. While the parallels with contemporary events are interesting, the plot went off on too many tangents which didn’t really go anywhere. ‘Booth’ may also appeal to those who have more knowledge of 19th century American history than I do. Continue reading
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Books I Read in August
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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
It would have been interesting to read ‘We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’ without knowing the twist which is revealed on page 77. However, as Karen Joy Fowler’s sixth novel has been one of the more commercially successful and widely discussed Man Booker Prize shortlisted books in recent years, I assume that the majority of potential readers will already know the basic premise of the story. Although I don’t think knowing about the big revelation beforehand lessened my enjoyment of the novel, if you still don’t want to read any further spoilers, then look away now. Continue reading
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