Advantages Had the potential for a great story
Disadvantages The story and characters were more like those in a short story
The Zig Zag Way by Anita Desai
“She is one of the finest English language novelists of modern times.” The Daily TelegraphTurning to the back more praise is heaped on the author and her abilities from various critics and the blurb spoke of a story set in Mexico so I was thinking this had a lot of promise.
Basically a young, rather shy man ( Eric) goes with his rather more confident girlfriend on a trip to Mexico. She then goes off to do whatever work she went there for and he is left to decide how to entertain himself. He vaguely remembers that his paternal grandparents had come from Cornwall to Mexico to work in the silver mines and sets off on a quest to discover a bit more about them and what happened to them.This has so much promise as the story goes exploring the history of silver mining and the characters involved as well as the possibilities of developing Eric’s own story, his relationship with his girl friend, Em and those people he encounters along the way.
Sadly I was struggling from page one as I hate it when authors write in unnecessarily complicated and convoluted ways. This is the sentence that nearly had me putting the book down very early on.“Since the inn was directly across the square from where the bus had stopped, he could not have missed it even in the dusk. The wind that had scraped and scoured the hills around till the stones gleamed white now struck the tin signboard against the wall of the inn with the sound of a bell striking the hours, drawing his attention to it.”
The characters just never really became real. Em may as well not have existed as there are few scant references to her as Eric thinks about what she might have said had she been there but really not adding anything to the story for me.Dona Vera who had the potential to become a really interesting and rather odd character fizzled out into nothing just as I was starting to become mildly interested in her story and background. She escaped from Nazi Germany just as things were starting to become difficult but we never find out if she was connected to the Nazis or why she was so keen to marry the rich Mexican who was so much older than her or why she then more or less left him to live in the family hacienda and spends her time riding in the hills. Why did she become interested in the local Indians and what was her relationship with the young india in a photo she looks at? These things are all hinted at but never develop into anything.
The best part of the book was Eric grandparent’s story and how they lived in small huts and the lifestyle they had.
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