I love Shakespeare – anyone who knows me well can tell you that – so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. But, sadly, it was under whelming and quite the disappointment. Perhaps I put to much pressure on this book before reading it?
I haven’t read King Lear yet, but I have been meaning to. I made sure to read over the synopsis and read some of the more “famous” pieces from the story online to get a better feel for it before I picked up this book. I wanted to understand the source material and see what Edward St. Aubyn would do with it. While he got the base of the story and plot correct, it just wasn’t as great as it could have been.
Henry Dunbar (our King Lear) the media mogul is our lead, who has three daughters (two of whom seem out of their right mind 99% of the time, I feel like they should have been in the psych ward, personally), is currently in what appears to be a psych ward with a not-so-funny comedian. He plans to escape and prevent the two psychotic daughters from running his company/getting his trust money.
The two psychotic daughters appear to be too evil – like it’s obvious, but their reasoning for getting the trust money doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to be crazy. I would have liked to see the craziness pulled back a bit to make it more realistic, or interesting. I just found them to pull away from the great story of Henry and Florence. While Florence does seem to be a little too goody-goody, their scenes are really beautiful and seem to be the best part of this entire story.
St. Aubyn uses a lot of Shakespeare quotes – which I loved! They were used in the correct context too. My issue within this, is sometimes it seemed like he was trying to write in iambic pentameter or using language from that era when it just didn’t fit in. The first chapter when Henry and his comedian friend are telling stories seem to be edging towards that era, but it just wasn’t funny. If anything, it made me more confused and bored. I had to keep re-reading what they were saying just to try to understand what they are doing (and I was an ace at Shakespeare in English, so how could I not understand normal English?…Geez).
My overall review – just read the original. There are some FANTASTIC adaptions out there that can wow your socks off and rival the original, and this one isn’t it. It’s a great story, and if it entered a contest it could potentially win, but it’s not the best I’ve seen. I gave up a few chapters in just to force myself through the book.
Edward is a great author, and while this might not be his strongest novel I’m sure he is great in other areas. I definitely want to give him another shot in the future with a book that’s an original story because I’m sure he could shine there.
Two out of five stars.
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
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