Month: June 2016

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

Posted June 3, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 4 Comments

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha HuntTitle: Mr. Splitfoot (Goodreads)
Author: Samantha Hunt
Published: Corsair, 2016
Pages: 322
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

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Ruth and Nat are orphans living in what could only be described as a crazy cult. Many years later, Ruth’s niece Cora finds herself pregnant. Ruth appears after years thought lost, but she cannot speak. She leads Cora on a mysterious mission, but where is she going? Mr. Splitfoot is an attempt at a contemporary gothic novel by author Samantha Hunt.

I picked this book up from the library for a number of reasons. I wanted to see a modern take on the gothic novel and I was interested in the cult-like plot. This book sounded like something I would really enjoy. But sadly I felt like Samantha Hunt just tried to do too much in this novel and nothing really came together as expected. I felt let down by the book and my only consolation was the fact I borrowed the book from the library instead of spending money on it.

Granted there is a lot of interesting elements within Mr. Splitfoot and by a more experienced writer this could of have been a beautifully layered novel. There is a touch of mystery, the gothic, the absurdity and horror elements to be found in the book. I felt like Hunt piled together every great idea she had and tried to pack it into the novel. This left me feeling like she had started so many threads but never actually finished them. The satirisation of religion, or the southern gothic cult, and the mystery or the coming of age story are all really good ideas. There are so many good ideas but at some point you need to stop cramming in ideas and focus on how they work together.

Mr. Splitfoot is an example of why I should never listen to hype. I think it is an entertaining read and there is a little bit of everything. However I wanted more depth, more exploration. I like the ideas the book presents but then it did nothing with them. I felt like this was just sloppy but for someone wanting a thrilling plot, this novel might work. I know I have very different taste in literature to the norm; I just need to remind myself not to fall for hype.


The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

Posted June 2, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

The Gap of Time by Jeanette WintersonTitle: The Gap of Time (Goodreads)
Author: Jeanette Winterson
Series: Hogarth Shakespeare
Published: Hogarth, 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle
(or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I have not read many of Shakespeare’s plays. I remember in high school I did do Romeo and Juliet and all I remember is watching the movie. Since starting my reading journey, I have now read Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. Hogarth have announced that they will be releasing modern retellings (they are calling them cover versions) of Shakespeare plays in celebration of the 400th anniversary of his passing. This will be including books by Howard Jacobson, Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood and Jeanette Winterson. The first novel in this series is Jeanette Winterson’s interpretation of The Winter’s Tale called The Gap of Time.

I had to read The Gap of Time for book club and I will admit I was nervous, having never read the original play, but was happy to finally check out something by Jeanette Winterson. I am not sure if not reading The Winter’s Tale, put me at a disadvantage but I approached this book as a new story, not knowing what parts are influenced directly from the original text. I noticed many themes of identity, jealousy, forgiveness, parenting, power, race and sexuality but unsure if this was the work of Winterson. I know Jeanette Winterson often explores sexual identity in her novels but that does not mean William Shakespeare did not have an interest in the topic.

I read this book more like a coming of age story, exploring the idea of family in a modern day setting. There are elements of romance but for the most part it was a story of discovery and identity. It was playful (with quotes from Shakespeare in the text) and at times tragic. I think this is a balance that Shakespeare does really well in the plays I have read and Jeanette Winterson seemed to capture this really well in The Gap of Time.

I found this to be an enjoyable novel even if I could not compare it to the original text. I am impressed with Jeanette Winterson but I would be more interested in checking out what she can do without being constrained to a pre-set plot. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Sexing the Cherry are both books I would love to read in the near future. As for the Hogarth cover versions, I am not sure how many I will read. There are some great authors being selected but I think reading the original text beforehand would be a huge advantage. Only problem is, I have a huge reading list already and not sure when I will get a chance to read more Shakespeare.