24 November 2015

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Title: The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Author: Richard Flanagan
Pages: 448
Genre: Historical
Book Description:
A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.
Richard Flanagan's story — of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle's wife — journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho's travel journal, The Narrow Road To The Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds.

My Opinion:
My English teacher recommended this book to me and I'm so glad he did! I have rather mixed feelings about it but aside from easily changeable structural factors, it was amazing! Set during the 17th century, we follow the life of Dorrigo, seeing his life as an Australia war surgeon as well as his adventures in a Japanese death camp on the Burma railway.

Because the writing in this novel is so deep and thought provoking, I found that in order to understand it, I needed to stop and then continue. The writing was phenomenal. I loved how the perspectives of the characters switched so we got to hear everyone else's experiences/feelings, not just the main protagonists.
Although I found it difficult to get into at the beginning, things began to pick up quickly and after that it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

There were a few things I disliked however. I've encountered this in very few books but when the characters speak to one another, that author hasn't used speech marks or indentations. You only know they're spoken if it follows with 'he said' which took me a while to get used to because I'm not a fan of this type of structure.

Overall, this book was a fantastic read and rightly deserved to be the winner of the Man Booker Prize of 2014. The writing is beautiful and I felt I could really connect with the characters! Plus, there were so many meaningful and wonderful quotes that really made me think about life. I'd certainly recommend this to any one that is looking for a deep read or enjoys historical fiction like myself.

Favourite Quotes:

There are words and words and none mean anything. And then one sentence means everything


A good book, he had concluded, leaves you wanting to reread the book. A great book compels you to reread your own soul


He believed books had an aura that protected him, that without one beside him he would die. He happily slept without women. He never slept without a book


Virtue was vanity dressed up and waiting for applause


Tis not too late to seek a newer world

4 out of 5 stars

Next book I'm going to review:
More Than This by Patrick Ness