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Topic: An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

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Subject: An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
Date Posted: 9/15/2008 5:41 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Colleen, this one's for you! :)

I don't remember which post it was that you mentioned interest in discussing this book, so I thought I'd start a new post.

I loved it! I had just about given up on mysteries, especially historical mysteries. Lately, they all read like romance to me. If the history is accurate (which is a BIG if), there isn't enough of it.

An Instance of the Fingerpost may bring me back around to reading this genre - at least selectively. Wow! The ending totally caught me by surprise. Just when the religious symbolism was getting to be a bit much, I finally understood why.

I posted my review here. There are no spoilers.

Date Posted: 9/16/2008 12:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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Well reviewed, Genie. It is indeed that kind of book, and I, too, for whatever reason, tend to think of it in the same thought as As Meat Loves Salt--which I also adored. Darkness is fascinating.  I particularly liked the differing points of view--always a good reminder for life to remember that if there are 43 eyewitnesses, there are 43 different things that happened and that no one perceives the same event in the same way.  One of the 4 characters offering his point of view is quite the dandy, and I loved his telling of the story---he brings the word 'fop' to life.

Ladies--we encourage you to pick up this volume--it's on my bookshelf, even. It is an unsung read that is truly brilliant.

 

 

Date Posted: 10/10/2008 12:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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Genie, Great review! (FussyHistory)  I have the book,  but have put off reading it because of the length.(733 pages)

Date Posted: 10/10/2008 7:57 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Hi Anna,

Don't let the size intimidate you. It's more like reading 4 smaller books because the story changes depending on who's telling it. :)

Genie

Date Posted: 11/6/2008 1:35 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Thank you for reminding me that I have this out from the libary and want to get to it ASAP!  Hopefully I'll finish up this month's BOM, The Snow Fox, in the next week or so and then I can move onto this one. 

Okay, am I the only one that always ends up trying to hurry up and finish a book so that I can get to the next one?  LOL! I need to be more zen about it and just slow down and enjoy reading the book I'm actually reading! 

 

Date Posted: 9/24/2009 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
Posts: 388
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I thought I would love this book, b/c it started out so strongly for me. I loved Marco de Cola's narrative and was totally into the book, dipping into it whenever I had  a few minutes. Then I got to the 2nd narrator, and it was like running into a brick wall. It dragged for a good while before I got interested in his storyline at all. Same with the 3rd narrator, and at that point I was halfway through the book and seriously considering giving up on it. But I pushed through, and it did pick up again. I enjoyed a good bit of the 3rd part, and most of the 4th part, and then I got to the last 70 pages of the book, which ruined it for me.

My disappointment was twofold. First, I don't like what Pears did with the Sarah Blundy storyline in the 4th section. (I'll try not to spoil it for future readers, but those of you who have read it know what I'm referring to, I'm sure!) It absolutely reeked of deus ex machina for me, and it was so completely heavy handed. Perhaps if there had been some hints here and there, I would've been willing to follow the author down that rather unbelievable path, but it was just too much for me.

My second big disappointment was the discovery of the actual killer. Here I was, scouring the book for clues and motives the entire way, and to have the truth be what it was was such a letdown. Especially because there was no buildup. All of the sudden, the truth was just put out there, thrown on the table in one quick blurt. I kept thinking, "Wait...so this person did it? And it happened like this? What??? No WAY!" It was a surprise for me, but not in that good, "Oh wow, I should've picked up on that, b/c the evidence was right under my nose the whole time!" way. It was more like a "Wow, I read all these pages to find out that it went down like THAT???"  :P

On a smaller note, I also didn't get the feel that these were four distinct narrators. They all had the same voice, IMO.

What is interesting for me about this book is that it had so much potential. Some parts of it were so compelling, I couldn't put the book down. But then other parts dragged and were almost painful to read. I loved that all of the narrators had their own versions of the truth, and they were unreliable in their own ways.  

Ah well. It wasn't a horrible read, but I wouldn't recommend it.



Last Edited on: 9/24/09 9:31 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/24/2009 10:24 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,344
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Wow, good review Arika! I have this book on my TBR list and now I will keep your comments in mind when I eventually get around to (trying to) read this!! Thanks much.

Date Posted: 9/25/2009 9:49 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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I never checked back in on this thread after I read this book several months ago. 

I LOVED An Instance of the Fingerpost.  Absolutely loved it. It's not easy reading.  The author's style takes some getting used to, but once I got comfortable with it, I started really getting into it.  I liked the book for so many reasons.  One being that it is told from different perspectives.  I've learned to like that in a book.  (It's the reason I also really enjoyed The Lady & The Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier.) Another reason I liked it was that as you read, things start getting more complex.  You read one person's version of events and think, "Yeah, makes sense," but then you read the next person's version and go, "Hmmm, well that makes sense too."  LOL! The mystery seems to deepen.  I found the book's religious message beautiful.  However, the reason I loved it the most was that the ending blew me away.  I totally didn't see it coming.  I was thinking that there were probably clues that I had missed.  Obviously, there had to have been some "fingerposts."  I'd really like to re-read the book and find the "fingerposts" now that I know the outcome.  I think it would be even better the second time around, and that I'd get even more out of it.  However, with so many books, and so little time, who is able to re-read books?  LOL! 

I just finished reading a book that similarly blew me away with its message and the "twist" the author put at the end, Life of Pi.  It's not HF, but I loved it anyway!  LOL! 
 

Date Posted: 9/25/2009 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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I have this book, haven't read it, but Arika, your review is really food for thought because I've read a book exactly like that & I'm still disappointed with how it wrapped up - The Stand by Stephen King.

*SPOILERS* I invested time in over 1000 pages and then to have God strike Randall Flagg dead out of nowhere was the biggest cop-out ever. He'd been built up to be so threatening and dangerous, and then to just be blasted by lightning from the sky was just....GAH!

I'll still read the Pears book and hope that the storytelling compensates for a possible lackluster finish. King has never been one of my favorites - I think The Stand has been the one and only book of his I've been able to finish! - so there was pretty much only willpower getting me through it.

Date Posted: 9/25/2009 3:12 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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What Shelley said. I totally agree. Except I do plan to re-read it. (:

Date Posted: 9/26/2009 7:01 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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I guess it's one you either love or hate....but it's one of my all time favorites!

Date Posted: 9/26/2009 9:35 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,344
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When I was reading this thread and saw something you wrote Colleen , which seemed to compare it to As Meat Loves Salt, I PM'd Shelley.  She and I had similar feelings about AMLS. I was not about to read another book like that, but I thought that I recalled the fact that Shelley liked this book.  She did like it, so, at some point I will read it!