& Sons: A Novel by David Gilbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I won a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads and I was thrilled to tear right into it. The synopsis sounded fascinating and I had this on my To Read list for some time before I saw the giveaway. I love books about books, authors, writers, book shops, libraries, librarians and book culture in general so I'm somewhat predisposed to enjoy the theme. And I did, for the most part. I do have to say though, that this wasn't a favorite or strong like for me. I think my departure with it comes down to the characters. I won't spoil but I had difficulty getting a handle on Phillip Topping (our narrator). He has not only some omniscience that I couldn't quite work out, he had an obsessive, ingratiating way with the Dyers in general, and A.N Dyer, in particular that was off-putting and as if that weren't problem enough, he was fairly early on clearly, an unreliable narrator. By the time a huge twist happens near the end, I was left not knowing if he was truly complicit, imagined that he was or innocent of all but a vivid imagination. Truthfully, I'm really hard pressed to care too much to give it further thought, one way or another. The important thing is, it's done now.
I had issues with other characters in the story but none so deeply that they ruined nor made the story for me. I did enjoy the postcards, letters and excerpts that are sprinkled throughout the story and felt they added a nice patina to the story overall. I didn't very much enjoy Ampersand's excerpts but only because it was the harsh mirror of some history between two characters in the story. A.N Dyer was a complete jerk in his day. I was completely annoyed with the reveal of Andrew's parentage because it seemed insane and not hinged in reality but by the end of the story I don't know if that revelation was supposed to be serious or not and as before, the important thing is, it's done now.
This was a three star read for me. Some of the prose is absolutely lovely and that I think was what I liked most. The characters, I could take or leave and not a one of them will stay with me very long. Still, I'm glad that I read this, it was a fairly quick read and I definitely will pass my copy on to my husband because possibly a male psyche will find more personal resonance than I did.
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