23 January, 2016

Book Review: The Little Red Chairs

From GoodreadsThe much-anticipated new novel from the literary world's master of storytelling, Edna O'Brien.
A woman discovers that the foreigner she thinks will redeem her life is a notorious war criminal.
Vlad, a stranger from Eastern Europe masquerading as a healer, settles in a small Irish village where the locals fall under his spell. One woman, Fidelma McBride, becomes so enamored that she begs him for a child. All that world is shattered when Vlad is arrested, and his identity as a war criminal is revealed.
Fidelma, disgraced, flees to England and seeks work among the other migrants displaced by wars and persecution. But it is not until she confronts him-her nemesis-at the tribunal in The Hague, that her physical and emotional journey reaches its breathtaking climax.
The Little Red Chairs is a book about love, and the endless search for it. It is also a book about mankind's fascination with evil, and how long, how crooked, is the road towards Home.

Thoughts: This is our next book group read and I'm really glad because I seriously don't know what to think! I'm hoping a bit of discussion with the other members will help me clarify my thoughts about this book.
Usually when I'm unsure about a book I will read a few reviews and find one which makes sense to me. With this book I agree with those who thought it was brilliant and with those who thought it was rubbish! The story is engaging, but I found it hard to get a grasp on any of the characters. They all seemed to be secondary in the way they weren't fully formed and not "there" enough.  No one's motives seemed to be clear for anything. I don't understand why Fidelma was so disgraced. I didn't get the feeling that Vlad was so ingrained in the community that his arrest was so startling. Worthy of some gossip, yes, but not the seismic shift that was suggested.
The plot also jumps around a lot. It's almost like O'Brien started on a thread of a story, but when it ended up not going the way she wanted, she just abandoned it, moving onto another idea.
But on some level I did enjoy it. I found myself wanting to pick it straight back up after I put it down. I wanted to know what happened when they got to The Hague, I wanted a resolution.
For now I've given it three stars, total fence sitting. Maybe I'll be clearer about how I feel after our book club meeting!