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Shade (2005)

Shade (2005)

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3.3 of 5 Votes: 5
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158234602X (ISBN13: 9781582346021)
bloomsbury usa

About book Shade (2005)

WHEEE, my 4 and 5 star book streak continues. I'm usually lucky if I read even two books in a row that I would rate more than a 3, so this is awesome.This is a strange, eerie, gorgeous book. It's a coming of age tale, a story of World War I era Ireland (and beyond), a dark love story(stories?), a ghost story. It's also very atmospheric, beautifully written and...did I mention strange? But I love weird books (as long as they meet my other basic literary "requirements") so that's just fine with me. The story is narrated by the ghost of a woman who grew up to be murdered by a childhood friend. Her spirit (this is SUCH an Irish story, God) is trapped not only in the sprawling old river-side home of her childhood, but also in her own past. Together Nina and the reader watch her childhood (and that of her murderer, as well as his sister and her half-brother) unfold, and search for answers as to how it all went so wrong. An element that I loved (and no this is not a spoiler, her death and the details of her haunting are revealed right away) is that her sadly watchful adult ghost was often seen by her childhood self, and as a girl Nina imagined all sorts of histories for the silent observer, never guessing it was actually her. That still gives me shivers just thinking about it, so deeply ironic and sad.

I loved the story or at least the concept of the story. I did not love his telling of the story. The writing itself is good at times - Jordan is a director as well as a writer so scenes are descriptive and provoking - and staged. The book is just so confusing. It seems that everyone has more than one name, especially the main character, Nina (or Dolly or Hester or whoever she may be at any given moment.) The story is told from everyone's memory of the same event - so one minute you're in the past from Nina's perspective, or Joanie's, or Gregory's - but all memories are shared at different times under different circumstances. Nina is Nina as a child or Nina as an adult or Nina as a ghost ... and then again the ghost is always present even when Nina is still alive - maybe. All of the characters are written with the same voice - even the "slow" George who is remarkably well versed for a boy with little education. And why do the characters do what they do - especially Nina who seems to have an idyllic life in spite of a distant mother - I never understood why she had so much angst. I guess I didn't understand much but I kept wanting to because there was a good story hidden in this book.

Do You like book Shade (2005)?

Does the idea of exquisite plotting, strong characters and apple-clear descriptive atmospheres in a novel entice you? What about a story of sidelives and quiet corners in the British empire around the turn of the twentieth century? Granted, some of the most obvious questions raised by the novel's events remain unanswered by narrative diegesis and, granted, Jordan has a filmmaker's sense of the spectacular; so too, however, does his filmmaker's eye see a world so rich and so full of fiction's power that the answers this novel provides are to the questions art asks of itself and not those we as readers ask of our novels. Nina's ghost is perhaps a partial truth at best but her voice is compelling and conjures up the quiet miracle of the most memorable stories of loss.

This is the story of Nina, killed by a childhood friend and trapped as a ghost in the house where she grew up. As the police come and go, and her body rots in its unfound hiding place, she begins to relive her own live, becoming the mysterious figure that haunted her as a child. From her lonely childhood, to the meeting with George and Janie, the arrival of her step-brother, to the lofty heights of stardom and eventually back to her own death. A brilliantly written novel, although not a great deal actually happens. You end up drifting from one scene to another, seeing both through Nina's ghostly eyes and her real ones. George and Gregory's battlefield scenes are quite harrowing and contrast really well with the images from her life, although the quick changes between the two did annoy me a bit. Still, I really enjoyed this and may well track down some more books by this author.

The blurb promised exactly the kind of thriller I would enjoy: return to childhood mysteries, brutal murder, heroine trying to make sense of it all. As usual, the blurb lied. Or, at least, it was obviously written by someone who had read only half of this novel. The other half, which insinuates itself in the midst of the narrative, is made up of a patchwork of voices: the dead heroine’s, the half-brother’s, the friend’s (sister to the murderer). The result is a beguiling story that disintegrates into mundane passages before reasserting itself at the end – by which time, alas, I had already lost interest. Besides, none of the characters regains the traits that made the group of friends initially intriguing. And I couldn’t, as the novel tried to save itself, work out exactly why George went insane and what it had to do with Hester, the spirit that Nina pretended was embodied by her doll. I dimly understood why he killed her, but none of the other threads really connected. The book’s title, a synonym for shadow or ghost, seems apt only in the sense that the novel turned out to be only a shadow of what I suppose Jordan intended it to be. Shame.

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