Saturday, August 08, 2009


When the World Was Steady, Claire Messud, Granta Books, 1994, 270 pp

Claire Messud had a success with her 2007 title, The Emperor's Children. I decided to read her first novel before reading her latest. I did not care for it. I found it dull and could not bring myself to care for the characters.

Two sisters are opposites in personality and location. Virginia lives in London with her widowed mother. She has never married, is a devout Christian, fussy and nervous. Emmy married a wealthy Australian and moved there but now her husband has left her for a younger, thinner woman. Both sisters are in their 50s when the book begins.

Virginia, who believes in God but certainly not in people, has been recently thrown out of her dull routine by a series of events. She agrees to a journey to the Isle of Skye with her somewhat dotty mother. Emmy, who believes she creates her own luck, is traveling in Bali, looking for some spiritual awakening but merely gets mixed up with various European losers.

I know; it all sounds exotic with plenty of potential, but the characters are not up to the locales nor do they change much despite anything that happens around them. I kept reading and waiting for the moment which would explain why the author wrote the novel, but that moment never arrived. Still, there was some promise in the writing, so I may try another one of her books.

(This book is available in paperback by special order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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