Tuesday 27 November 2018

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

I'm a big fan of audiobooks, and when I saw that the author, Markus Zusak narrated Bridge of Clay, I was sold. 

Having enjoyed The Book Thief - maybe not as much as others did (but tbh, some really gushed about that book) I felt I was in safe hands, and started, and started and started a third time.

Seriously, this isn't easy to get into.

The writing is beautiful, but there are these clangers dropped in, that make you wonder - what on earth? Like who is the murderer, who is writing the story, all these animals, all these boys and how come all the chaos and confusion in their home? Patience is required. I did wonder a few times, whether I would remember the things I didn't know for long enough, when the reveal came, would I care? The stunning prose helps you persevere and recall though - here's a well quoted excerpt.


Once, in the tide of Dunbar past – long before kitchens and boys, and murderers and mules – there was a many-named woman. And what a woman she was.
First, of course, the name she was born with: Penelope Lesciuszko.
Then the one christened at her piano: the Mistake Maker.
Her factory name was Penny Lessing.
Her unfortunate, self-proclaimed nickname was the Broken-Nosed Bride.
And last, the name she died with: Penny Dunbar.
Quite fittingly, she had travelled from a place that was best described by a certain phrase in the books she was raised on.
She came from a watery wilderness."

If you, like me, can persevere, you will be rewarded with the most wonderful depiction of a household of rough-and-tumble boys. Boys who had to grow up too quickly, boys who know how to fend for themselves and each other. Here's some more...

“He, as much as anyone, knows who and why and what we are:

A family of ramshackle tragedy.

A comic book kapow of boys and blood and beasts.”

The five Dunbar boys grow up - apparently in Australia. They have a mule, a pigeon, a cat, a dog, but there are no parents, not much school, but plenty of training, fighting and drinking. The history and backstory of Mom and Dad are filled in, slowly, like the colours in a painting revealing more with every page. And when the clangers come together, in all their mystery and awkwardness, and ugliness and truth, you may weep a little. Last quote: 

"When I asked if I might run with him, he'd shrugged and we soon became:
It was training, it was escaping.
It was perfect pain and happiness."

A wonderful heartwarming and heartbreaking, character-driven book, with larger than life scenes that will stay with you for a long time.

4 stars


More books.

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