This book. Ugh, this book. Briefly, the main character and a bunch of other “midnight’s children” are born at the same time that the modern country of India comes into existence. Those both in that magical hour are endowed with special gifts, designated for, if not greatness, at least notice.
I really don’t know why it took me literally forever* to finish this novel. It’s the kind of magical, sprawling, historic narrative that I want to love, and sometimes do. One Hundred Years of Solitude comes to mind as a somewhat similar book that I did in fact love. Now that I think about it, though, I really struggled with Solitude for quite awhile before it hooked me in and refused to let me go. Maybe I was just never able to immerse myself for the requisite stretch necessary to appreciate Midnight’s Children.
Is there another of Rushdie’s books that you might think I’d get along with any better?
The Bluest Eye
This book is brutal. Not that Toni Morrison typically writes happy, feel good books or anything. But seriously, rape, child abuse, rape as child abuse, self hatred, racism, unattainable beauty standards – all that and more are in this slim little novel.
Still, Morrison manages to resist simple narratives even about the most despicable of her characters. That is something I really appreciate as much as it frustrates me. It’s not accurate to say that she makes a character sympathetic, but she can imagine how a young boy might grow up to commit heinous acts and can show that it is still a person, not a monster, that commits them.
It’s Morrison’s first novel, and it’s not as impressive as some of her later work, but still, it’s Toni Morrison. She can write circles around pretty much anyone else, as far as I’m concerned.
Daphne du Maurier
It’s a mystery in the sense that we know that the title character is dead, but not what happened to her. There’s Maxim de Winter, lord of picture-perfect Manderley
The ending was..troublesome, to say the least. I’d love to sit around and have a good feminist-influenced chat about this book. There are some very obvious WTF red flags about the treatment of women, the unreliable narrator, the fact that this unreliable narrator is unknown to us except as “Mrs. de Winter.” I still can’t figure out exactly how I feel about it, but I’m glad the Classics Club pushed me to read it.
*Yes, I’m using literally figuratively. Deal with it.