The sub-title of this is “A novel in 5 love stories”, and there seems to be a lot of heated debate about whether this is a novel or five short stories.
To me, that never mattered (except that it clearly only counts as one book on Goodreads, sigh). I haven't read Sebastian Faulks before, despite many recommendations.
I disliked the first story. It felt told so many times. I didn't like the gruesome details, nor the protagonist. I nearly gave up on the book completely. Then I met Billy Webb. I loved him. Sadly, he only lived for 40 pages. The third story was mildly interesting, the fourth completely forgettable, and the last was great.
The constant worry plaguing me through the book was - “this is well written, and is clearly an accomplished author, what if I don't ‘get it’?” I’m still not completely sure I did.
I did enjoy the writing, and I could see the threads through the stories, which were pleasant. I also thought each story well told - a good thing that each didn't have to take 300 pages. I also liked the quotables - like:
“If not just the brain but the quirks that made the individual were composed of recycled matter only, it was hard to be sure where the edges of one such being ended and another person began.”
A pleasant and diverting observation on life, humanity, love, sorrow, loss and connection. I’m on holiday and enjoying reading just for reading’s sake. I may have been less patient if this hadn't been a holiday read.
And how gorgeous is that cover?