by Douglas Kennedy (Hutchinson) R170, 00 ISBN: 9780091795849
What an ordinary book written by an extraordinarily average writer. Perhaps that’s why readers like his writing? He makes his story seem better than it really is by using a few props. He gives his character an unusual job, throws in a few foreign phrases, and crafts seemingly ‘clever’ backstories. Until you realise they are all vignettes without substance.
Or maybe I’m just a dull reader who doesn’t get it at all. This book was a trial at 488 pages. When you start out with a protagonist who is essentially an emotional coward you have to work hard as a writer to get the reader to like him.
Thomas Nesbitt is supremely boring. He is an unsuccessful travel writer with a life of unsuccessful and unfulfilling relationships. We are supposed to be intrigued, to want to find out why he is this way. What was ‘The Moment’ that defined him?
Thomas Nesbitt’s father dies. He leaves him $300 000, 00 and he buys his own cottage on the way back from the funeral, ending his marriage. His wife files for divorce, he receives a package from Berlin and the story stutters forward.
Try as he might, Kennedy couldn’t get me to buy into poor Thomas and Petra’s love story, set against another prop – The Berlin Wall in The Cold War. I am unimpressed by his throwaway literary lines, and his references to obscure poets and well-regarded writers.
Thomas, an American writers, fall desperately in love with Petra when they are in Berlin. So deep is their involvement that the author tells of their affair with graphic descriptions of the need they have for each other.
When Petra falls pregnant at the end of their affair, the enemy for whom she works, give her an anaesthetic and remove her baby. Only one thing in Petra's life is greater than her love for Thomas, only one love deeper. For which she pays dearly.
Thomas finds out that she has been spying on him but does not give her the chance to explain that she did it in order to regain her son Johan, who was removed from her when he was small. The discovery of the spying is shocking and the break-up desperately sad for many years of their lives.
Thomas finds himself in a loveless marriage and yet he has a daughter. This book is beautifully written by a talented author. The end has a twist when Petra writes to ask Thomas to look after her son Johan. Highly recommended
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