Thursday, 14 June 2012

Book Review | The End Of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas

Bonjour to all Ma Bicyclette readers and thank you for joining me on my third look into the wonderful world of literature!

Ma Bicyclette: Book Review | The End Of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas

As promised, my review is about a fabulous book called “The End of Mr Y” by Scarlett Thomas, which I admit I hadn’t heard of before (I know, I know, as a fan of literature I hang my head in shame!), but is apparently quite a well known piece. 

Thomas herself is quite a fixture in the world of writing, and as well as being a lecturer on Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Kent, she has won many awards for her other works, including PopCo and Our Tragic Universe. The End of Mr Y was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and has a ton of gushing reviews from the world over, which is why it caught my eye in the first place – that and the rather snazzy front cover design! So let’s begin our look into Thomas’ rather interesting world.

The main character in the book is our heroine Ariel, who although is portrayed to be a bit of an anti-heroine in many cases – elicit affairs with married men, a bit of a loner but still a saucy older lady, an attraction to a toyboy priest – she is still VERY likeable and you follow her story with growing interest. As a literature student she has a love for an eccentric Victorian writer, who wrote a book called The End of Mr Y. The text is extremely rare and many say cursed, so when she finds a copy, she pounces like a caffeine filled panther and reads it. The basic gist is that Mr Y finds a potion that takes him to another world – the Troposphere or MindSpace – where you can enter other people’s minds, hear their thoughts, but also travel backwards through time by using people’s memories to jump into their ancestors, even if they’re no longer living. A bit confusing I know, but unfortunately I don’t seem to have Thomas’ gift at explaining things simply, while still making them seem believable and original.

The story develops when Ariel makes up the potion described, and finds that this other world is real. The description of this world is wonderful and Thomas has a knack for painting such a vivid picture, you feel like you’re watching a film instead of racing through pages of a book – and trust me, you will race through them! So anyway, things develop – Ariel meets a Mouse God (it will make sense!), a pair of American CIA agents are trying to kill her, Ariel meets Adam (toyboy priest) who she has a lusting love for, and eventually who helps her when she goes on the run from the agents.

I know it may seem all higgledy piggledy when laid out like this, but my one issue with this review has not been disappointment with the book, but in trying to sing its praises without giving too much away! If I told you what happened, weird event by even weirder event, it would definitely ruin the biggest enjoyment I got from the tale, which was staring wide-eyed and open mouthed as unexpected twists and turns took me through a very exciting and ingenious plot. 

This story fizzles with intelligence, insight and originality. It will not disappoint and is a cracking good read! For anyone who loves books and ye olde world of literature, this is DEFINATELY the book for you. And trust me, it isn’t cursed... I don’t think...

Nikki B

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