Saturday, 28 May 2011
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The thing I loved most about this book was the characters. Eugenides deals with a large cast over a long time period immaculately, making each family member distinct and allowing them to develop over time. The way the characters related to each other was superbly written too, and the story of Cal's grandparents was probably my favourite part of the book. The middle section, about Cal's parents, lagged a little by comparison, but the final section about Cal was breathtaking. The scene where Cal's doctor is pushing her towards a treatment option without revealing the full truth is creepy indeed.
As I cared so much about the characters, this book was hard to put down. I read it during a busy week at work and was frequently frustrated that I didn't have more time in the evenings to pick it up. The writing was very good (although different from The Virgin Suicides), descriptive without being overwhelming. The only criticism I would make of the writing is that I don't think Eugenides ever really conveyed what it must have been like for Calliope to deal with the information that she was actually a boy. The emotional turmoil was hinted at, but I never really understood what it would be like to be Cal.
One of the reasons I chose to read this book is because I loved The Virgin Suicides. After reading both I think I still enjoyed The Virgin Suicides more. It's not as epic or as masterful, but there was something in the writing that made it easier to get into the heads of the characters and the story, and therefore it was more memorable to me. I accept I'm probably in the minority on this one though.
Verdict: Highly recommended - go and get your hands on a copy!
Score: 5 out of 5