There should have been huge mountains to climb to persuade me to even open A Boy of Good Breeding by Canadian writer Miriam Toews, not least the cover.
It bears a passing and blander (which should be good) resemblance to Zadie's latest and I swear that cover is stopping me opening that book.I'm supposed to have read On Beauty by this evening's book group and it hasn't happened and I'll have to own up.I'm hoping to redeem myself as it's my turn to choose the next read and I am going to take them all into new and unexplored book territory, for which they will either love or hate me. Yes, it's Haruki Murakami time, more to follow.
So back to Miriam Toews.I overcame all cover prejudices and jumped right in because I was a huge fan of A Complicated Kindness and its deeply insightful look into life in a modern Mennonite community, it won a clutch of awards, so here surely was her new next novel? Wrong again, here's an old novel by Miriam Toews now being recycled on the back of the success of A Complicated Kindness. Here we have a confirmed case of Picoult-Shriver Syndrome and it annoys me ever so slightly.Just that little feeling that I'd like to have been known, but only very little in the case of Miriam Toews as I enjoy her writing so much.
A Boy of Good Breeding is a "warm, witty and wise story of small town dreams" according to the blurb. To my mind there's not much of a hook there.I'm reading these in a renewed light after Jessica's in depth look at blurbs over on The Book Bar. But it does do exactly what it says on the tin and I was immersed in Algren, Manitoba and Mayor Hosea Funk's attempts to win a visit from the PM of Canada on Canada Day if they can only win the accolade of smallest town. This means a population count of exactly 1500 on census day and poor Hosea spends his life worrying about the inconvenient birth of triplets, deaths, people moving in, moving out.
This book had nothing like the depth of A Complicated Kindness for me, but that doesn't detract from a very well written and thoroughly enjoyable read to weave in amongst a surfeit of monochrome if you've over-indulged on the melancholy.Very funny in places, almost laugh out loud but not quite, which was handy. I was supposed to be meeting two friends for lunch yesterday and clearly I had either the wrong date, time or venue or all three. Whatever, I sat there like billy no mates and finished this book and in the end I was quite pleased no one turned up.
UPDATE: It transpired that all being women of a certain age two of us had written down different dates and one hadn't heard us make the arrangement at all.