06 November, 2013

J. Mead Falkner

There was no question of passing this book by when i saw it in the library: Falkner wrote Moonfleet, one of the best children's stories ever written, so clearly i was going to have to see if i enjoyed this as much as the other. It is different, quite different, that is important to say at the outset. Stradivarius is a lot shorter, possibly a novella or novelette, though i'm never sure of definitions with those words, and intended for adults not children (not to say that Moonfleet can't be enjoyed by adults). It is more of a ghost or Gothic tale rather than an adventure; indeed, very little adventurous happens at all: It is more what happens within the characters, most especially the protagonist, who is almost possessed by a ghost or a piece of music or a violin, or all three.

Falkner has purposely reached back into the past ~ his past, as well as ours ~ to create his story, telling it by means of a letter from an aunt to a nephew ~ the protagonist's sister and son ~ some number of years after the event, as an explanation of his family's past. I have to say that, were this the first of Falkner's books i had read, i would not now be considering it a success; my reception of it, however, is affected by my affection for the other. Gothic is not my favourite genre, though i don't hate it; nor am i overly enthusiastic about the narration technique ~ not just here, but in general the epistlatory style is not one i love. These are not enough to make me turn from it, though; i think that more of my response is due to the story itself, which is curiously plain, meaning that the events do not seem to flow properly from the character and actions given. It is more forced, in other words, than i am comfortable with.

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