I have been looking at what others are reading on Goodreads and adding my comments on the recent books I’ve been reading. Fine for Snow by Orhan Pamuk and for Legend of a Suicide – a tough read – , but then I wanted to write about Judith Harris’s The Monster in the Closet. I couldn’t. It doesn’t exist as far as Goodreads, or Amazon, is concerned. Here it is in front of me. I hold it in affection because I heard about it progressing and became fascinated by this story of an old American family that had emigrated from the West Country of England back in the 17th century. The researching and writing of the book intrigued me, and when it was published by the American History Press in 2012, I was, I hoped, one of the first to grab a copy and read it. Most of what I know about American history is from this book and from Toni Morrison’s great novel, Beloved. So I wanted to talk about this with fellow readers on Goodreads. No way.
I’m now reading Magnus by George Mackay Brown, published1973, but mine is a recent edition of 2008. He was a well-known Scottish writer and poet, versed in the ancient legends of Scotland and Scandinavia. It isn’t an ebook, and I can’t access it to write about it on Goodreads. So I can’t post anything for the moment.
Forty pages into this beautifully written work of only 200 pages, I’m wondering whether there is enough action yet. The peasant at the start – we are in Orkney in the 12th century – called Mans, introduces the reader to the strip of land he is ploughing and sowing opposite an island with a monastery on it. Separated when the tide is high, at low tide one can reach the island from the mainland. Then we follow seven boys as they wait for low tide to cross to the monastery where they will be educated by the monks. Now the reader is back with Mans as he rows a boat with the King of Norway on it; they are fighting Welch men in the Menai Strait between Anglesey and Wales. All these strands will be pulled together. I must be a patient reader, but the writer in me says that we’re already one fifth into the book and I’m not sure where it is going, though I think I should be following Mans, and his wife Hild, as well as the seven boys, one of whom is Magnus.
Before I started this book, I decided to name the character introduced in the first chapter of my book, Magnus. Is this a coincidence?