Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Every Eye" by Isobel English

I'm torn. I've finally read a Persephone book that I didn't get on with. I've read a couple before that I didn't adore ("Reuben Sachs" by Amy Levy, "The Wise Virgins" by Leonard Woolf...) but I always found that eventually I got something out of those books that I didn't have before I started them. But with "Every Eye" I'm just not sure. Admittedly the situation was all wrong - I read a library edition, wrapped in that horrible thick plastic they coat library books in, and with a white label stuck over the endpapers and not a matching bookmark in sight. Plus my mind is distracted by thoughts of "the gendering of commodification' for my modernism essay, but I thought this mini novel might be a brief distraction.

However, I struggled to care what happened to Hatty, who struck me as a rather unlikable and dull protagonist - bizarrely dating a much older man who repulsed her, seemingly because she thought no one else was interested. Did she have no self respect? The book flits between the past and her present, which takes her to Spain with her current husband and on a trip to unravel a mystery surrounding her past. But it was a mystery that failed to capture my interest either... or one that I even really noticed.

To be fair, I have been very distracted while reading "Every Eye" and I'm sure it would benefit from a second reading, although at the moment I can't find the enthusiasm (or time). But what did interest me was reading the preface (which I always read after the novel as they have an annoying habit of giving away the plot) and learning that Isobel English was tortured by horrific migraines and emotional stress, which in hindsight added quite a lot to the book. So many critics rave about "Every Eye" that I'm sure I have missed something... one day I'll have to go back and find out what it was.

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