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Friday, 27 March 2015

Book Review Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy



Synopsis

**Book at Bedtime on Radio 4**

'Written with such narrative elegance that you're led irrestistibly on, as with some exquisite dish, from one perfect melting mouthful to the next' Michael Frayn 

London dances to the tune of Gorsky’s billions. The most enigmatic of oligarchs, Gorsky has been led to the city by his love for Natalia, whom he first knew in Russia. That she is now married to an Englishman is an inconvenient detail. 

Gorsky desires and gets the best of everything. His mansion by the Thames is set to make Buckingham Palace look like an ungainly box by a roundabout. At its heart will be a grand library, denoting taste and breeding. Now he just needs the books. 

When Gorsky’s armour-plated car halts in front of a down-at-heel bookshop, the startled young man behind the till receives the commission of a lifetime. The bookseller suddenly gains privileged access to the wealthy and the beautiful; a world filled with delectable books but fraught with danger...

My Musings

All that glitters is not gold.
I found this a deeply frustrating book. The author Goldsworthy has a beautiful, descriptive lyrical style which I found myself totally absorbed in. It was her skill that kept me going and surpassed my irritation with certain aspects of it.

This really is an ode to London, the super rich and the melting pot of colourful people who flock there. Goldsworthy has used The Great Gatsby as , I thought in the beginning,  a template for her story. Fine so far. The similarities are clearly referenced. I loved the premise of this enigmatic billionaire swooping into a quirky bookshop and ordering the young bookseller to put together a rare library, no expense spared. The description of Gorsky weaves a mythological person in the readers mind. Then Natalia ( who's daughter is Daisy) is introduced and I suddenly realised that Gatsby wasn't being used to inspire it actually was being retold but in a different time frame.

 I have a love hate relationship with the original. I love the character of Gatsby but am always irritated at his one woman blindness that leads to his downfall. It always felt such a waste. Then there is the shallowness of this world, the superficiality. People with too much money allowed to be self indulgent and nasty. This world is absolutely mirrored in this book and maybe this is why I found difficulty with it. This world is presented as attractive and something to aspire to but the people are so ghastly you find yourself not caring.

Goldsworthy seems so enamored with this world it becomes off putting. You start to see it for what is its even if she doesn't Maybe that was her aim? When I realised I was actually reading Gatsby in a different time frame I did wonder what was the point. I already know the ending. There is no surprise. I know they do this with films a lot. The equivalent of this would be the remake of Great Expectations with Gwyneth Paltrow, which was brilliant. Did I like this because I like the story better?

I truelly feel Goldsworthy missed an amazing opportunity here to put her own spin on it. Maybe she could have told the story of Daisy(the daughter) grown up. She could have still had echoes of Gatsby but given us an original take. She could have given it more depth. I just found it a waste of talent. Would I have enjoyed it more if I loved The Great Gatsby? I don't think so because there were no surprises. She has written it scene by scene the same as the original. Sometimes it works for films but I don't get this at all. I hope this isn't going to become fashionable. I know Jane Austens novels are being rewritten by authors such as McCall Smith so who knows maybe its just me. Maybe if someone really loves a novel they get to read it again but from a different angle. I thought, this would be from a different perspective but there is no originality of thought here regarding plot. I don't know if this was a commission  or Miss Goldsworthy is in love with this book but I truely urge her to take some of these characters and trust herself to imagine her own plot.

I think her next book should be what happens to Natalia's Daisy? I would read it.

You should try this book if you like glamour, London, mysterious characters, doomed love I would love to know what others have to say about this book. Am still in two minds which is why my review is so mixed.

If you like this you may like
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald