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Monday, June 14, 2010

Beatrice and Virgil

by Yann Martel
224 pages

*** About the Book ***

Beatrice and Virgil: A NovelHenry's first book was a success and he's certain that his current project, a new way of looking at the Holocaust, will be as well.  He's spent years working on this manuscript and he is shocked when it is rejected by his editors.  After this, his desire to write dries up and he begins to lead a new life.  Eventually he meets an old taxidermist (also named Henry) who is working on a play about two animals.  The writer in Henry begins to come to life again as he assists the taxidermist with the play, but Henry suspects that there might be more going on than is readily apparent ...


*** Why I Read It ***

I expected to hate LIFE OF PI when I read it yet I ended up really enjoying it, so I was excited to hear that Yann Martel had a new book coming out.  I received a copy from the publisher a while back but I held off reading it until now because I wanted to have it fresh in my mind so I could call in to That's How I Blog! on June 15 for the book discussion.



*** My Thoughts ***

I can't decide what to think about this book.  I think bullet points will help me order my thoughts ...
  • It was very easy to get into even though it didn't seem like much was happening in the story.
  • There were certain sentences and phrases that I thought were beautifully written.
  • I loved getting to know Beatrice the donkey and Virgil the monkey.  I didn't expect to appreciate them as characters but I definitely did. 
  • If you asked for my opinion when I was 3/4 of the way through I'd have said it was a strangely fascinating book.
  • If you ask me what I thought of the last 1/4 of the book, I'd say that I'm somewhat confused and really don't know what I think about it.
  • I love the concept of the taxidermist's play - it is unusual, creative, and potentially effective in getting his message across.
  • I definitely did not like it as much as LIFE OF PI.
I'm really looking forward to discussing this book on That's How I Blog (June 15 at 9pm EST).  I feel like I need to bounce ideas off other readers and hear their interpretations before I can decide whether I like it or not.


*** Your Thoughts ***

People are really split on this book ...
Have you read any books that left you conflicted or confused at the end? What do you do to solidify your opinions about a book like that? And also, will you be calling in to That's How I Blog to discuss this?

22 comments:

Amy said...

Thanks for the link. And I'm really fascinated by everyone's reviews. Some people love it, some hate it, some just can't decide. You seem more of a can't really decide overall, which is what I was. I will have to remember to listen to your That's How I Blog to hear more!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I'm glad that you will be discussing it with us. I might have to just listen. I'm in the last pages of the book and while it started out okay I haven't really liked it that much. Frankly I've been bored throughout. We'll see if I change my mind in the last few pages.

Jen - devourer of books said...

Hmm, 'bored' is the one reaction I don't think I've heard yet, Nicole! I'm glad you'll be calling in and discussing with us tomorrow night too, Heather, this is the sort of book that begs for a big group discussion.

Andi said...

Great review! And I'm always fond of books that actually throw us a little (or a lot) off kilter. Those "what did I think of it?" books are the greatest for discussion.

Trisha said...

It seems like Martel is the M. Night Shyamalan of books; some cool stuff is happening through out and then we get the twist ending. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Alyce said...

I really wanted to like this book, and felt bad about hating it so much - especially since my husband bought a signed copy for me. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Marie said...

I'm actually about to write my review of this book soon. It's a difficult read. Thanks for your thoughts & for linking to other reviews.

softdrink said...

I have yet to read a review that has convinced me to read this one (which is no reflection on any of the bloggers!). I just don't want to be all "huh?" at the end.

Heather J. said...

Amy - Yes, I'm still in the "can't decide" phase ...

Nicole - I'm really looking forward to it!

Andi - I definitely lends itself to an in-depth discussion!

Trisha - That is a very apt comparison!

Alyce - I didn't exactly hate it, but I definitely didn't love it either.

Marie - I look forward to seeing what you have to say about it.

softdrink - I totally understand that!

Hilke Breder said...

I loved the first part of the book, found the play of Virgil and Beatrice beautifully written. Then the shocking awakening in the last part, a beast revealed... Wonder about the psychology of the taxidermist, any parallels to the torturers in the Third Reich, who were often outwardly cultured and sensitive men? Yann Martel tackles a huge subject and gives you much to think about.

Jen-Girls Gone Reading said...

I am curious about Life of Pi...I could not finish it, but lots of people loved it. It seems author brings out lots of varied thoughts!

diaryofaneccentric said...

Your review certainly has made me curious. I'm intrigued by the fact that it draws you in without a lot going on, but the fact that you're left confused by the ending makes me a bit hesitant.

--Anna

Heather J. said...

Hilke - Thanks for visiting me and sharing your thoughts! I agree with you on the play - it IS beautifully written. But I'm still up in the air about the ending ...

Jen - If you like audio books, you should try LIFE OF PI on audio - skip ahead to where you stopped reading and see if you can finish it that way. The ending is worth experiencing in my opinion.

Anna - I'm hoping my thoughts will be clearer after the THIB show tonight.

Beth F said...

I could just repeat what Jill said! I have a copy, but I just haven't been pushed into reading it.

Amanda said...

I couldn't get past about 10 pages in Life of Pi, so I never even considered reading this one. I've seen a lot of good reviews, though...

Jenners said...

I've read enough reviews of this book that makes me think it isn't for me. I know when I saw a new book by the author of "Life of Pi," I was SOOOOOO excited as I loved that book. But it doesn't sound like this is ANYTHING like that book!

Heather J. said...

Beth F - I can completely understand that.

Amanda & Jenners - This book is definitely NOT like Life of Pi at all. Amanda: You might like it. Jenners: You probably won't.

Robin McCormack said...

Great review. It makes me want to sit right down and read it now to find out what you are talking about. Unfortunately I missed THIB this week.

Heather J. said...

Robin - Well I KNOW you have the book so I'll just have to wait to see what you thought of it. :)

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Oh, I'm sorry I missed your THIB! show, Heather (the kids are done w/school this week ... will I have a better chance at keeping my calendar?!?)

I haven't yet read BEATRICE & VIRGIL, so I can't weigh in on the book ...

Heather J. said...

Dawn - It wasn't actually MY show, I was just joining in the book club part of it. I did a THIB show a few months ago - you can go back and listen to it if you like. :)

ANovelMenagerie said...

You can't argue how poignant it was at the end!

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