Tuesday, 10 July 2018

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - #BookReview

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel painter pursuing fame in the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented lawyer yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by a degree of trauma that he fears he will not only be unable to overcome - but that will define his life forever.

In a novel of extraordinary intelligence and heart, Yanagihara has fashioned a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark and haunting examination of the tyranny of experience and memory.

Some people are put off reading long books. Personally, I quite like them as I see it as a book that I can really get my teeth into. That said, by the time I am drawing towards the denouement I am usually looking forward to getting on with something new. Which is why I was surprised that when I came to the end of this totally engrossing book I was sad that it had come to an end. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that I feel slightly bereft that this cast of characters are now out of my life.

Within the unassuming cover of this book lies a novel of exquisite intensity. Bearing in mind that I finished reading this a couple of weeks ago and that I have read a couple of other books since, the fact that I am still mulling this book over in my mind speaks volumes concerning what a fantastic novel it actually is.

Each of the characters are flawed but are written with such absolute honesty that they are very easy to engage with. Although this book is about the four college classmates it focuses on Jude, whose previous life is a mystery to his friends and everyone that he knows. His life is gradually explained to the reader and the author presents us with some extremely difficult themes. However, she deals with Jude with such sensitivity and compassion that, as readers, we are able to bear these revelations.

This is an intelligent character driven novel which looks at the true meaning of love and friendship. Written with tenderness, care and compassion, the author has ensured that this a book I will never forget reading.

As always, there are not any spoilers within this review. What I will say, is that I cannot decide whether I think that the conclusion of this book was the perfect one or whether I really hated it. Have you read this? What are your thoughts?

ISBN:  978 1447294832

Publisher: Picador

About the Author:

A Little Life is Hanya Yanagihara's second book and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015 and was a finalist for the National Book Award in the same year.

She is an American novelist, editor and travel writer. She grew up in Hawaii and now lives in New York.

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