The Alexandria Quartet (and Hitchhikers)

I was somewhat ambitious on the book front when we were in Canada, taking five with me, and then succumbing in the airport and buying another three that took my fancy.  That was never going to work, but in the event we played Canasta most evenings, so I got through only the new Hitch-hikers guide to the Galaxy book called And Another Thing …: Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three (Hitchhikers Guide 6) by Eoin Colfer, and the first half of The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell, that I’ve wanted to read for ages.

The Hitch-hikers book was always going to be interesting, since Eoin Colfer is carrying on Douglas Adams defining work with its unique style, and where the books were a development of what started as a radio play, and in many respects work better in that format.  And, for the most part he does that well, it was an enjoyable read that had an Adams feel, and didn’t feel like it let down the standard.  About the only point that started to niggle were what felt like a materially larger number of ‘guide asides’ – entertaining, but occasionally in such frequency that they distracted.  It was good to see him adding new features and angles to the Adams universe, as well as leveraging much that Adams created.  All in all, if you liked Hitch-hikers guide to the Galaxy then this is well worth a read, though it’s probably not in my top ten books this year.

The Alexandria Quartet, however, is already in my top three for the year, and I haven’t finished it yet.  It is actually four novels that deal with the same people from different angles – I am half way through the third (Mountolive) having read Justine and Balthazar.  This is definately not a light fluffy read that can be picked up and put down, since there is so much depth, and the description is so rich that it works your mind more than most books that romp through events.  The characters are developed better than any other book I can recall, with ones understanding building up in layers, often with the characters own understanding of themselves.  And, though Alexandria of the 1930’s is far far from my personal experience, I almost feel like was there personally.  It’s taken me a long time to get around to reading it, but I’m very glad I have.

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