18 May, 2010

Greater Joy

The Whole Wide Beauty

Emily Woof

Apparently, so the blurb tells me, Emily Woof is a British actress; i looked her up on Wikipedia, out of interest, when i first began this Early Reviewer book, and discovered that her father was director of the Wordsworth Trust, based in the Lake District, and a well known scholar; it is surely of interest that the (female) protagonist’s father is director of a poetry based foundation, is lives in or near the Lake District, and is well known for constantly raising funds. I am moved to wonder just how much else of the book is based on reality. Katherine, the protagonist, became a dancer against the wishes of her father; Woof became an actress, and i wonder how Robert Woof felt about that. Katherine has an affair with one of the protégés of her father. One just has to wonder how much is imagination and how much confession.

Enough speculation, and on to the book itself. Did i enjoy it? Well, yes, i rather think that i did. There is a lot in it, some of wisdom, plenty of observation, and sufficient of reality in character-building to make it worth the read. In turn: Wisdom, Katherine has found it necessary to find her own way in life, in that she has been untouched by poetry, her father’s muse, to the extent that when she hears it, it really has no meaning for her, so her own creativity has been focussed on something entirely different, physical creativity, rather than intellectual, but this is not portrayed as simply an act of rebellion, more of the necessity of finding one’s own way in the world. Observation, both of a character (especially Katherine and David) and their motives, and of the world, is all through the book; i wonder if the fact that Woof is an actress impacts on that, as she has had to observe in order to reproduce in her work. Reality, especially, as i say, in building the characters, is rife: I found all the actions and reactions of the characters rang true, and i was able to understand why they did the things they did, even without explanations, because they were real people; that is a huge point for me, in a book, because all too frequently characters do not behave as you might expect ~ not because people don’t, but because they are poorly drawn and motivated ~ not an issue here.

And yet, overall, the book surprised me with its plot developments and character interactions In the end, i have to say that this is a lovely experience, for me, of the Early Reviewers programme ~ unlike my previous!


Anonymous said...

I too read this book as part of the early reviewers programme but curiously had quite the opposite reaction as I felt the characters were just not developed. But what annoyed me most of all was that part of the time it appeared to be set in the Lake District but at other times it was Northumberland. I thought it was sloppy writing and couldn't help thinking that it was only accepted by the publishers because the author was already "a name" in another field.

Elsie Wilson said...

Yeah, i had that same issue with the Northumberland/Lake District/Carlisle changes. Odd, wasn't it?

Ponsonby said...

If you have the opportunity, see Emily Woof in the DVD of Hardy's 'The Woodlanders' - v.good