Friday, 11 May 2012

Old, but not forgotten

Well, its been a while as I was so blogged out by the April challenge that I've been unable to write one since. Until today that is. Doing the challenge was fun and I liked having to think of new subjects to write about each time rather than just rambling about me and my writing. So I thought I'd try and keep it up. The Y post looked at voices of young narrators in novels and as I am currently reading a novel (The Blue Handbag by Fiona Robyn) that features a narrator in his 60s (not that old I know, in fact now that I'm approaching 40 it seems positively young) I thought I would feature voices of the older generations today. 


So, in no particular order, here are a few novels I've enjoyed with older narrators.


Water for Elephants, Sarah Gruen
I loved this story of Jacob who ran away and joined the circus after being orphaned at the age of 23. He hadn't meant to join the circus but after leaving college and suffering from a breakdown after his parents' death he jumped a train at night and discovered it belonged to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. The tale is told through the memories of the 93 year old Jacob as he unhappily resides in an old people's care home, waiting for his family to visit and take him to the circus that has come to town. The circus heyday, when it was a truly spectacular event, is captured well, as is the drabness and despair of depression-era America and the growing danger as Jacob gets involved with people he really shouldn't.


Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
This was a fascinating insight into the psyche of a man who had dedicated himself to service and taken British stiff upper lip emotional repression to a whole new level. Stevens has worked as a butler in an old English house for important men doing important things in important times. By extension his work is important too. So important that he can't take time to mourn for his father nor to acknowledge his feelings towards his colleague, Miss Kenton. When he is nearing the end of his career the house that he has worked at for all of his adult life changes hands, while the old customs are all falling by the wayside, Stevens goes on a holiday and the tale is told through his old eyes reflecting on his younger self. I found this book desperately sad and it stayed with me for a long time. 


Half Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan
Narrated by Sid as an old man in 1990 and flashing back to his memories as a young man in war-torn Europe in 1940, it's the story of a band and the trumpet player who was arrested by the Nazis and never seen again. Its also the story of a friendship ruined by jealousy and a life tormented by guilt. Themes of loyalty, remorse, resentment and redemption run through this novel but what I mostly took away from it was all about friendship. The things we do to the people we're supposed to love, and also the things we accept from them when others think we're mad to do so. But more than anything I loved the expressive language in it and Sid's voice was engaging, you cared about him despite his obvious flaws. And he said one of my favourite lines in a book ever: 'Even with his face falling apart he still hands-down the nattiest thing in my house.'


What books do you like that have old narrators?

4 comments:

  1. Water for elephants was wonderful. As to challenges, havevyouvtried the TriBecta one?

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  2. I loved Water for Elephants. I also love you have featured older voices in writing. That is awesome. :)

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  3. Thanks Sandra - I'll check it out - and thanks for your lovely comments, Pam, too.

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  4. I haven't read any of these but I want to read Water for Elephants. Thank you so much for sharing these reads--I have to add them to my summer reading list!! Cheers, Jenn

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