Henry Aster’s father bought an old gothic house in a middle of a small American town where no one understood him, his writing or his obsession with books. Henry and his little sister grew up in the shadow of his father’s ambition, depression and genius, until one day his was gone. When he moves away to university Henry must deal with all of this, with his own writing ambition and becoming his own man.
For the first bit of the book I was just trying to work out where it was going, what it was about. It seemed to just chronologically be telling this guy’s story, with various flashbacks to his childhood. I couldn’t grasp if there was a central point: apart from his Dad. I eventually gave up trying to suss the book out and went with the flow, then at the end worked out what it was going on about all along. I’m not sure if this made me more or less satisfied.
The book, I suppose, was interesting and literary. Or at least trying to be so. I’m not sure how much it achieved that, but once I’d got into it, which did take quite a while, it moved along nicely. The character was fairly interesting and his life unfolded well, though always with the slight mystery.
As he grows up, he falls in love, and the girl he falls in love with is probably my favourite part of the book. She brings some life and light to the story and to his life, and they help each other to face their demons.
I wonder if there are things I don’t understand about this book because it’s American, and partly about small town America? In lots of ways I’m not even sure what to say about it. Did I enjoy it? Kind of. Do I think it was a good book? Kind of. Would I recommend it? Probably not, though I would really like to talk to someone about it.
It all made more sense when the central point and fact were revealed at the end. But by then it felt a bit cheap, a bit easy. Anyway. If you read it, would you let me know?
And thanks to the publisher for the review copy. Much appreciated, as always.