Monday, 9 May 2011

Trains & Boats & Planes by Killen McNeill (3/5)


The back says: Love for Harry Moore will be forever linked with Marie, the beautiful girl from Alsace. Ever since his magical teenage encounter with her in a tiny holiday resort in Donegal, it has never lived up to his expectations.

Thirty years later, Harry, middle-aged, but not quite disillusioned, travels to Strasbourg to take up the search for Marie, and the innocence and longings of his youth.

I say: I don't know what I thought about this book, and that worries me. It starts off with Harry having this mundane conversation with an associate to be in Strasbourg that he's eager to get away from, which he does, and then runs off to find Marie. I don't think I'm giving away anything by saying that he does find her - it happens within the first 10 pages - which was a surprise to me, since I thought the whole idea of the book was that he was going to look for her.

Whatever.

The narrative of the book weaves between everything that happens from the moment Harry meets Marie in the now, and when he met her as a child, 30 years earlier. I preferred reading about Harry as a teenager, and I think that if the book had started off with how they first met, and then skipped 30 years ahead, I would have liked it better. The way it was set up now, going back and forth, I didn't like the person Harry had become, which made it harder for me to read about him as a teenager. I found myself searching for clues as to what had happened, and that took away from me just enjoying the story. And then when we got to the things that did happen, I didn't really care anymore. Which I thought was unfortunate, because if this had been just a coming of age novel, it would have been really good.

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