I have planted some more hedges for privacy along my border, and it seems like I am never finished landscaping. I enjoyed taking some breaks for reading in there though that probably made the job last longer. (What is a bookworm to do?) The Last Kings of Sark kicked off my summer reading list quite nicely.
The Last Kings of Sark by Rosa Rankin-Gee
Four very solid stars. I have to take away one star for the format of the book. I'm kind of an old-fashioned reader who likes my story sequential with obvious transitions. This novel is divided with a feel of short story chapters that combine to make up a whole book. We start with Jude on the first day of her summer tutoring job, and then more or less follow a timeline that spans 10 or so years. Unfortunately, I did feel a little lost sometimes. So, four stars it is.
The first chapter focuses on the longest stretch of time and has no particular order other than Summer, but I feel that was a very necessary technique. Part of the absolute beauty of this novel is Jude's complete awareness of time. It moves us forward, yet when we look back it doesn't seem to stack up in the same order it was made. The power of nostalgia wraps our memories. Events make time move quickly and slowly all at the same time. It is an ever allusive quality, yet Rosa Rankin-Gee captures the essence of time here.
There is one particular section where no names are used, just the pronouns you and I. I have mixed feelings about this section. Because it took me until the end of the chapter to figure out who the characters were, I was able to read that particular chapter in a couple of different lights. This technique really made it obvious to me that there are three distinct voices to this novel. All the points of view are set out there, and we as readers really get to immerse ourselves in this love story. So, I guess in the end I didn't hate the technique as much as I started out.
This novel is certainly a story about love. Its complications, ups-and-downs, and the moment that you gain it forever or lose it. The story could also be placed in the category of coming-of-age in that magical summer. It always seems to be summer when people think they grow up, but winter when they realize that they haven't. I find that fascinating. And this novel really captures that fascination and awareness of time for me.
I was very impressed with this story. It was just beautiful. Not grand, or genre inventing. Beautiful.
It hits the Kindle store for US on 8 July. Happy summer!