Gerard Bernal Bernal from Bhatija Randhawa, Punjab, India
I LOVED this book. It was so transporting, I was walking around in a dim for a couple of days when I read it. I felt like I understood what it would have been like when the Nazi's invaded and then occupied France for a large majority of French townspersons. And what she captures so well--and often hilariously--is how absolutely unique, and put-upon and RIGHT we each believe that we are, even with all evidence to the contrary. The printing I read also included an appendix with her notes about the book (which is unfinished, published posthumously), which I found completely fascinating. It's so nice to know that other people have to write around and around a object.
Looking at the comments here, it seems that this book is getting hammered because it cries out to be compared with other powerhouses of essays. Set in the 1500s of Henry VIII, it clearly bears corresponds with Gobble Assembly room which is set two wives earlier. It has to be said that it lacks the bloom of the word of that novel or its subtle, multilayered realistic characterisation. Mantell's Cromwell is a far more engaging and convincing narrator than Sansom's Shardlake. Similarly, set in an isolated monastery, narrated by an articulate first person narrator who is investigating a murder, comparisons with Name of the Rose are easy to make. I may be mistaken, but I wonder whether the endorsement to the (fake) lost Fun of Aristotle in Scarnsea's library was a deliberate echo (or Eco?) of Name of the Rose.Again, however, Dissolution comes off worse in the contrast: it lacks the intensely almost arcanely intellectualism of Eco, who I love hugely; the word comes across as being broadly modern with the occasional nod towards the period whereas Eco's letter has always struck me an amazingly authentic. This said, see at the writers with whom Sansom is being compared: I cannot think of any writer who would come off better in such a action! It is the information of the corresponds that almost demand the comparisons to be made which is the problem, not the letter or the plotting itself. Sansom has so far succeeded in engaging and entertaining me, creating a macrocosm which feels reasonably authentic. That seems to me to be worth a good 4 stars...
As with all Fuentes differents, this definite is very complex and displays his vast knowledge of virtually all things. It's also a rather sad picture of Mexico Municipality and its politics and culture in the late twentieth century. I think you have to know more about D.F. than I do to really appreciate the novel, but I'm a lover and registrant of Fuentes, so I enjoyed it.