Report on The Page Turners Meeting - Meeting, Thursday, 7 February 2019
- Led by Ellen Schofield
However, are we susceptible to envy things that we can’t have? Or is it often demonstrated that these enviable things may not be as you might suspect?
The Baltimore Boys by Joel Dicker delves deeply into the lives of the Goldman family in all its complexity. The intricacy of which highlights the wealth, the opportunities and the privileges that are the bedrock of the story. The patriarch has an avant-garde woman alongside him, which allows for the unconventional “adoption” of a “wild child “who stirs the mix to an unexpected degree. The outcomes of the story are sometimes heart-breaking and other times puzzling. Though for one pair happily ever after is suggested. The relationships between the characters are complex and made more convoluted by the pre and post dénouement of the event that grounds the story.
The novel is itself a metafictional account that mirrors Joel Dicker’s own desire to write a follow up to his first novel. He explains how The Baltimore Boys fits in with his previous best-selling book. I realised that although Marcus’ character was very visible in The Truth about the Harry Qu Ebert Affair, he wasn’t described in detail and we knew nothing about his family or his past. So I wanted to give him an identity by writing a book about his roots, and more specifically about his bonds with his cousins, Woody and Hillel. The novels are connected since they both have Marcus Goldman, however they can be read independently. I aimed for continuity in the stories, but not a sequel. (https://www.waterstones.com/blog/the-truth-about-the-baltimore-boys-joel-dicker-introduces-his-latest-novel)
There were little gems and images in the story – the dog who acted as a cupid, the sick boy being carried along in a wheelbarrow and the regular Thanksgiving get-togethers. Some of the group found the family connections enthralling and found the “jumping about” of the timeline a successful way to manage the narrative. Some found that they needed a couple of tries to get going with the story.
The book is very well written and once you get it, it is absorbing. The majority of our group gave the book a score of 8. Some were a little incredulous of the setting, as mentioned at the start of this report. But if the elite world of the American rich is the best setting for an author’s imagination and it holds water then so be it.
The latter view did perhaps affect our overall score for this book though. It settled at a final score of 7.
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- Report by Ellen Schofield