Sunday, 31 December 2017

Go Viking

Recently I read a book called Go Viking by Helen Russell which is due to be released in April 2018.
Usually when I read a book I can encompass my thoughts about it in a tweet, which can be considered lazy, abrupt or simply insufficiently deep but in truth reflects my personal interpretation of the role of book reviews.
If I think you should read something I make no bones about it. The One by John Marrs for instance: I can fit my effusions into significantly less than 140 characters (the limit at the time I read it). "This book is bloody brilliant; I couldn't put it down. You must read it." That was the general gist of my feedback.
If I think a certain subsect of people should read a book, and I can define why, again, it's a simple matter to do that in a small number (now 280) of characters. Witness Exhibit A:
I only tell people to not waste their time with a book if I'm *convinced* it has no merit - by which I don't mean "I dislike it therefore you shouldn't bother". My taste isn't indicative of the world as a whole, so it's very rare I tell people to steer clear of books.
Similarly, I find books, stories, narratives to be such an emotional investment I find it very hard to fall into an ambiguous camp. I love it or loathe it. It fascinated and compelled, or it was a chore.
Go Viking is that rare thing. A book I loved, but that I feel very conflicted by.

I recommend you read Go Viking. Let's just put that out there. It is good. You will enjoy it.

Here's the full review.
Go Viking is the story of a woman learning about herself and learning to be honest with others about herself. She encounters challenges, she confronts demons and she tears herself and her world almost to destruction in order to rebuild it. The narrative is strong, the characters are well defined and everyone is that perfect balance of wonderful and infuriating that means you would be friends with them if only you could meet them in real life.
The character voice conflicts with the character a little - but only a little. She grows. She learns. Her voice stays the same. That jarred with me a little but really it's a miniscule thing.
My real problem with the story is a terrible reflection on myself.
In the privacy of the main character's mind we learn about her motivations, and her private demons, although she appears to remain oblivious, which shows Helen's incredible skill with words and narrative. I salute you, and can only hope to emulate you one day.
By the end of the story, those demons have been battled and I won't tell you the outcome. What I will say is that if I had that kind of conflict with one of my sisters, my side of the argument would contain a lot more exposure of the underlying cause than hers does.
In short, the main character grew so much and so strong that she outstripped me and I'm not sure I can forgive that.

I absolutely loved the book and I will re-read it at some point. At that time, I hope I am also a little more mature and can find it within myself to admire the strength, fortitude and power of all the women involved. I desperately want to be friends with them all.


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