Thursday, October 4, 2012

In Brief

I've been sitting on a few books that I've finished in the past couple of weeks but haven't posted about yet. In theory, I like the idea of leisurely digesting each book and taking my time in deciding what I want to write about each one. In reality, my memory of those books gets a little bit foggier with each passing day. As someone who prides myself on being an avid reader, my dirty little secret is that I have an embarrassingly bad memory when it comes to the concrete details of novels. More often it's a few images or scenes, or an overall mood, that sticks with me while specific character names and plot points go flying out of my head. So, in the interest of trying to get caught up with where I am in my real-life reading, here are just a few brief thoughts on The Undertow by Jo Baker.

The Undertow is a family saga that follows four members of the Hastings family who share a common name and experience some of the key historical moments of each of their generations. William Hastings is killed while serving in the British Navy during WWI. His son, Billy, grows up fatherless and abandons his career as an aspiring Olympian to serve in WWII. Billy's son, Will, attends Oxford during the 1960's and raises a daughter, Billie, who lives in modern-day London. It's not an exhaustive family sage that tracks every detail of each generation. Instead, it zooms in and out over the years, fast forwarding through time and pausing for brief intervals that illuminate some of the defining moments for each of the characters. A key focus of the novel is the emotional experiences that are passed down  and shared through the generations, and many beautifully drawn common details crop up in different parts of the book to reinforce this idea. 

See, I told you I'd be brief on this one.

Do any of you struggle with literary forgetfulness like I do? Or do you have any other "embarrassing" reading traits to confess?


  1. I very much suffer from literary forgetfulness! That is why is was so hard for me to write about The Shooting Party - I finished it nearly a month ago.

  2. hello there! i keep a stack of books by my bed, and dip into whatever is nearby. so if i forget, i can just reread. happy weekend and happy reading!

  3. I'm glad to hear you suffer from this malady as well :)



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