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Monday, January 05, 2009

The Likeness

Although it’s not quite as enthralling as her first book, Tana French’s sequel is well worth reading. In The Likeness, French continues her lyrical writing and fascinating characterization. Cassie Maddox continues from the prior novel, In the Woods, but this time she’s the clear protagonist. The beautiful writing clearly takes center stage in this book, but I also couldn’t help being captured by the interactions among two sets of characters: the police on the one hand, a group of Irish graduate students on the other. Read it for the language, for the characterization, and even for the suspense, though the plot of The Likeness is not really its strong point.

I don’t usually like to quote from Amazon reviews, since they tend to be from random amateurs. As a random amateur myself, what do I need their observations for? But in this case I really have to quote from three, even though I risk sounding like a publisher looking for blurbs:
Tana French has created another sensuous, lyrical, haunting, suspenseful story... Tana French is no lightweight, but she makes the story accessible to anyone who enjoys reading. She has that gift to appeal to a variety of readers — even readers who look for largely escape mysteries. But this is not escape reading; it is the kind of reading that makes you ponder. It is philosophical and it echoes. It has shadows, swirls, hollows, heart,humanity, tension, suspense, whispers, hawthorn, hawthorn, hawthorn... [by switterbug "laughingwild"]

It was truly an exceptional and thrilling read. The way French fleshes out Cassie Maddox, Lexie Madison and the four housemates is truly astonishing. I have always been fond of character-driven plotlines and novels, and French truly impressed me with “The Likeness”. The amount of depth present in these characters — their motivations, relationships, and personalities — was both fascinating and engrossing. This was a book difficult to put down. [by Voracious Reader 326 “College student”]

I couldn’t write a single sentence as well as Tana French if I started now and lived to be a thousand. And she wrote a whole book, two books, of them. Flawlessly. Word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, until the book is as perfect as it could be. It boggles the mind, it really does... It’s a privilege to read Tana French, it really is. I feel only pity for the person who wrote of the unbelievable plot, I do. This book isn't about a plot, just as Chandler wasn’t about plot, just as we don’t read Shakespeare for the plot. Anyone can do plot; but to give feeling and life, undoubted life, to characters on paper, that is to marvel at. [by Adam Shinbrot]

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