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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

The Lovely Bones (Author: Alice Sebold)

The Lovely Bones (Book Cover)

Engaging, Erratic, Powerful

Genre: Psychological Fiction/Domestic Fiction

'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold.

As Suzie Salmon (like the fish) made her way across the cornfield on her way home from school, she spotted Mr Harvey. It was well known that he was an odd ball, with his inventions and obsession with building things, especially dolls houses but, thought Suzie, he seemed harmless. Although, Suzie had never been particularly comfortable around adults.

As she reaches him, he acknowledges her, making small talk but also paying her compliments concerning her appearance. She never questions how he knows her name. He invites her to come & see the underground hideout that he has constructed.

Once inside, Suzie is impressed & compliments him on his work. There is a chair, a bench & even a chimney to allow for small fires to keep warm. After obliging Mr Harvey by accepting a drink she decides that she really must be getting home, she is mindful that her mother will be wondering where she is. When she announces her intention to leave, the older man leaves her in doubt that this wasn't part of his plan. What happens next changes the lives of those closest to Suzie and even one who isn't, for some considerable time.....but no one more, than Suzie Salmon's.....

I first became aware of 'The Lovely Bones', via a friend of a friend who said that she loved the film. So, for years, my aim was to watch it. I never gave it a thought as to whether there was a book, but then I wasn't much of a reader back then. I still haven't seen the film. I spotted the book on Amazon whilst looking for something else. Because the person who expressed a love of the film had always spoke of it fondly, and although I knew some of the premise of the story, I had thought it would be a light hearted take on death even with some humour. How wrong was I?!

If you know the full extent of the narrative, you won't be surprised to learn that it is in fact quite dark. It's a very wordy book & very content heavy in my opinion, which isn't necessarily a bad thing entirely, but if you're not on top form whilst reading as I wasn't, it could get a bit over-whelming. The way that the author would chop & change subject when you were just warming to a particular part of the plot, I found to be distracting, & then difficult to recall where it had left off. Despite that though, it wasn't difficult to follow & for the most part was engaging. For me though, it wasn't one of those books that you can't put down or can't wait for the opportunity to read another chapter. I found myself pushing myself to continue with it each day, however, once into it, I could read 4 or 5 chapters in a sitting.

The author offers an interesting take on what the afterlife might look like & I thought that the breakdown of the family was very well put across. The only part of the novel that I can honestly say that I felt let down was how the character of Mr Harvey is dealt with. It didn't leave me with the satisfaction that I was hoping for.

I will still continue to try to see the film, more than ever now because I need to compare the two mediums, and hopefully the screenplay would go some way to explaining the couple of scenes that I struggled to visualise.

Overall an imaginitive enjoyable read.

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