I couldn’t have picked a more difficult book as my first review. This sat on my bookshelf for twenty years before dusting it off and having another go. I started it four times and each time abandoned it because I had no idea what I was reading. I thought I was just stupid – not literary enough to appreciate the language, not educated enough to know what he’s actually on about.
The last time I picked it up, I gave myself a deadline – it had to be finished by Christmas or I wasn’t going to get that Kindle! So with immense patience, I began to labour through the long, dense descriptions, with the distinct feeling that the book seemed to start about five times. It then got exciting for a while. I was quite pleased with myself for staying with it, despite the variety of languages I couldn’t translate, the characters that remained unappealing (particularly the female characters) and the historical context of the 1970’s that seemed to have nothing to do with anything (if it did, I missed something, which isn’t unlikely.)
There was even a bit of a murder-mystery going on but it was abandoned all too soon for endless conversation, in which the author did the one thing I simply loathe: using characters as a mouthpiece for relaying huge, vast chunks of historical/scientific/religious information. The plot, what little there was of it, died on its feet.
Somewhere, lurking inside this book, is a really good movie, just as The Name of the Rose was so well-filmed. But you’d have to dig deep and I don’t think anyone would care enough. By the time I got to the fantastic (apparently) denouement, I was bored to death and found myself skipping through it because it was all so trite. I love reading a book to shore up the education I never got and I got quite excited by some of the ideas and conspiracies; by the time I got to the end, however, I was left quite blank. None of it stayed with me and my disappointment is keen. The best I can say about this book is that at least I’ve read it.