Sunday, June 27, 2010

Beginnings and Endings; which are best?

I have just read a stunning book called Cathedral Street by L J Hippler. Larry is a writer of the first magnitude and like all good books, it took me a while to get into it. This was partly due to the fact that the story is set in Baltimore, USA and being a Brit,I need a little while to adjust to the different speech patterns, attitudes and thoughts of the main characters. However, the triumph of a good author is that one warms to the flawed,imperfect but very real people he creates and L J Hippler is a master of such characterisation. By the time I reached the last page with its poignant and tender ending I was immersed in and felt a part of the unhappy family whose father had bullied and browbeaten them all mercilessly. He was a truly horrible character and it was fascinating to see how his sons all went their separate and very different ways in order to try and escape the crippling influence of their past and where their efforts at escaping led them. The past, alas, can never be escaped however hard we try. It leaves its mark for good or ill.

I never give up a book until I'm at least half way through because I have so often found that a difficult start can often be a prelude to something that evolves and eventually grips one. A good ending is better in my opinion than a good start because it is the ending we are left with ultimately and that seems to round off a story whereas the start is forgotten. There are plenty of famous opening lines, it's true but they are few enough.

Too many writers nowadays feel they have to begin a story with something nasty and violent like Dan Brown's entries into most of his books; entries into a vicious, violent world that sweeps one relentlessly along, mesmerised and horrified by the author's imagination. But at least Dan Brown keeps one involved to the end. Whereas so many writers start with a marvellous few chapters that promise a lot (in order to catch an agent's eye) and then peter off into a dull, convuluted and often improbable story not worth printing in Woman's Own.

I always say that a book should be like good sex...a long, slow, exploring start that warms up to a glorious climax.

Well, try Cathedral Street, it does just that.

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Favourite Quotes

  • My home is my retreat and resting place from the wars: I try to keep this corner as a haven against the tempest outside, as I do another corner of my soul. Michelle de Montaigne
  • Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony: Mahatma Gandhi
  • Friends are people you can be quiet with. Anon.