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Force of Nature

Updated: Mar 22, 2018

Jane Harper is the next great Australian author with a best seller to her name, (The Dry) so I was interested to read this second novel. Oh but ...

... I am on page 62 and, to quote Lady Sylvia McCordle (Kristin Scott Thomas) from Gosford Park, bored to sobs. A few pages back there was this (not giving away anything to do with the real plot, as far as I can tell, so no spoiler alert) but this is what one of the characters says, "Falk could see a look settle in his eyes... [Falk] was aware that in the grand scheme of things, most people ranked money laundering somewhere between shoplifting and fare evasion..." and honestly, this sums it up. This is, so far, as exciting as reading a text book about corporate tax law on a wet Sunday afternoon in January in Whitstable.

The blurb on the back cover (yes, I am so bored that I am reading the blurb on the back for some light relief) describes this as 'Lord of the Flies in the Australian Outback'. Blimey, I wish they'd get on with some pig sticking or stumble across a dead pilot hanging from a gum tree or something, then. Instead of standing around talking about how boring money laundering is as a subject.

Ho hum ... I'll keep reading. At least until ER comes on the tv and I can spend an hour lusting after Dr Greene.

Update - next morning. Have given up trying to actually read it, am skimming in order to find out who did 'it' - though not entirely sure what the 'it' is. I just want to get to the end.

I woke up this morning thinking of a woman I once worked with, whom I shall call Marie. French, with sort of clay-coloured skin and lank greasy black curls and one of the best resting bitch faces you could ever wish to see. We loathed one another with an absolute passion, made a great deal worse by the fact that we job-shared. In an attempt, once, to try and lighten the atmosphere between us I commented on her dress. "That is such a lovely dress, Marie, where is it from?" Sneering curl of the lip, "Diane von Furstenberg, naturellement" with a level stare at my own Primark leggings. Now you see, we were exactly the two women that HR would have thought would have benefited from a team-building exercise and it would have been four days of hell on earth and no doubt I would gladly have hit her on the head with a branch and left her for dead.

Just saying - to me, that feeling of pure loathing that informs so many working relationships is entirely missing from the novel. A group of characterless women who seem to vaguely dislike one another for no particular reason set off walking, and then keep walking, and then walk somewhere else. Menace? Passion? Murderous intent? Not as far as I can see. (Sigh) I'll keep on reading. Only another few chapters to go.

OK I've finished it. That's several hours of my life I'll never get back. I've worked out the real problem with this book. The sheer amount of talking about nothing. Dialogue 101! Take this for instance, 'I wanted to apologise.' 'For what? She knew. Or perhaps she didn't. When Jill thought about it, Lauren could be feeling guilty about a number of things. 'The other week, at the briefing,' Lauren said. 'I mean, I'm sorry I wasn't at the briefing. But Andrew said he could make the presentation alone and -' She stopped. 'I'm sorry. I should have been there, I know. ' [and then it goes on for another paragraph or two about the briefing, and the sorry, until finally] ' ... because the briefing -' 'I really am sorry -' 'I know, but it wasn't the first time for something like that. Or even the second.' 'It won't happen again.' 'Are you sure, Lauren?' and on, and on, until FINALLY 'Anyway' Lauren said, 'That's all I wanted to say. really. I do realise things haven't been good enough at work.'

This conversation covers an entire chapter; pages 86 thru 89. A conversation about missing a meeting!! And just in case you are thinking it was a really important meeting, well, it wasn't. And just in case you are thinking that Andrew who had to do the presentation on his own ran amok as a result and stalked Lauren and stabbed her with an unfolded paperclip, well, he didn't. My advice to anyone thinking of reading this book? save yourself some time and skip pages 86 - 89, as they contain nothing of any relevance to the plot whatsoever.


Cake?

I made myself some weird little cakes to eat with this. Because baking cakes on a Sunday afternoon just seems like the right thing to do. I wanted ‘healthy’ cakes (now there’s a contradiction in terms!) so I made these basic cup cakes loaded up with seeds, pecan nuts and dates. Actually they are delicious! Very energy-giving. Would be perfect if I was trudging through the Australian outback. And thankfully, gave me enough energy to keep reading one of the world’s most boring books. They talk, talk talk and they walk, walk, walk. Sigh. Luckily I have enough cakes to keep me going to the bitter end.


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