Wednesday, May 12, 2010

61 - Beatrice and Virgil; Yann Martel



















Yann Martel wrote Life of Pi nearly nine years ago, and I thought it was such an amazing story. It was part fantasy, part adventure tale, but the story was actually based in part, on the life of the authors' childhood friend from India.  Since I loved that audio book so much, I decided to wait for the audio of Beatrice and Virgil as well, even though I had received a review copy a few month's ago.  I am glad I waited, as Martel's stories are meant to be listened to....the reader, Mark Bramhall was just awesome.

The central character in this novel is Henry, an acclaimed writer.  His most recent submission is two stories on the same subject, the Holocaust, but all in one book. Picture two identical front and back covers; read one version (fiction), flip the book over and read the other version (non fiction). When his book is rejected by his publisher,Henry decides to stop writing, move, and begin a new phase in his life.

After Henry and his wife move, he receives a strange piece of fan mail, which include a short story by Flaubert.  The mail comes from a man, also named Henry, asking for Henry #1's help in writing a play with twenty-one animals. The main animal characters are, Beatrice, a donkey and Virgil a howler monkey.  Of course Henry #1 is curious and he tracks down the letter writer at his shop. Henry #2 is a taxidermist, and he sees his vocation as "not to kill but to preserve and bear witness". 

As Henry the taxidermist, begins to read parts of his play the meat of this novel unfolds in a shocking way.  There is so much more I would love to write, but it could easily lead to potential spoilers.

Let me just say that although the beginning of this novel seemed slightly disjointed to me, the story was brilliant. Much like Martel's his last book Beatrice and Virgil, was very descriptive, captivating and truly imaginative. The story was both insightful and at the same time shocking. It's a story that still haunts me. It is one story that will leave many readers with plenty to think about. While the story fully held my interest and kept me curious until the very end, it also left me feeling sadder than I ever expected to feel when I came to the end. Not sad, that the story was over, but sad by how it ended. Those of you who read or listened to the book will know what I am referring to. "Games for Gustav, 1-13", made my heart sink and my jaw drop.  Despite the ending, I am still very happy I decided to read this book. It's a short book, but one like, Life of Pi, that will resonate for a long while. RECOMMENDED - 4.5/5 stars.
(Review based on Library audio book and Review Copy)

27 comments:

  1. You have made me so curious about the ending! But of course the ending of The Life of Pi packed quite a punch too! I look forward to reading Beatrice and Virgil...

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  2. I read The Life of Pi years ago and really enjoyed it a lot-thanks for sharing your thoughts on his new work-when I see it in paper back I will for sure by it

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  3. I loved the life of pi so will get this one, I want to know the ending now!

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  4. Sounds fabulous, although I haven't read The Life of Pi yet.

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  5. I haven't read your review as I plan to read this very soon, but I'm really pleased that you gave it 4.5 stars. I hope I enjoy it as much as you did.

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  6. I've seen mixed reviews of this book, but I think this is the first review I've seen of the audio version. I may have to look for it.

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  7. I completely know what you mean, isn't that amazing? This book still leaves me with such a strange feeling in my throat. It was amazing, and it was awful. I ended up giving it "5 stars and one big question mark." It's so hard to tell people what it's like and what it's about, they really have to read it to know. Great review Diane. :)
    Alayne - The Crowded Leaf

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  8. Oh wow! Your review makes me want to rush right out and get this book! I read and loved Life of Pi and this one has made me really curious, but I was holding back. After reading your very persuasive review, I can't hold back anymore! Thanks for sharing this wonderful review! Glad you liked the book!

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  9. A lot of mixed reviews on this one. People either loved the first half and hated the last half, or vise versa.

    I was not liking it early on but was left stunned and sort of shell-shocked for days after I finished it.

    It's not a book to love, but it's powerful and if a writer's purpose is to grab the reader and force him/her to think, then I think Martel achieved that.

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  10. Mathematician says to the Baker, "Pi r squared"

    to which the Baker replies, "No! Pie are round, cake are square"

    ~~~

    sounds like a good book.
    Do you think it is better as audio, or would be better presented in actual print format?

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  11. Just read another review for this one this morning at Nose in a Book. Between the two of you, that ending has me very curious!

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  12. I'm going to look for the audio version! Thanks for the awesome review!

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  13. I have Life of Pi on my shelves and will read that first. This one will also be read in spite of the fact that I have read some mixed reviews. Your review also gives me the idea that maybe I will also listen to the book rather than read it to enjoy the story and how it unfolds more.

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  14. So glad you enjoyed this one! I've been hearing mixed things about it, so it's always nice to hear there are readers out there enjoying it. I have a copy and am now looking forward to getting to it!

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  15. I'm glad that you liked it. I wanted to, but really didn't like it at all. My review will post tomorrow. I really didn't realize how much I disliked the book until I finished writing my review.

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  16. Alayne and Ti...I totally understand what you are saying about this book. It is so hard to describe, and so hard to forget as well. I had a bit of trouble at the very beginning, but very briefly only.

    Kathy, Erisian, I actually had the print and audio version, but I ended up listening about 80% to the audio. I DO recommend it.

    To Everyone else with general comments. Don't just read the end, you MUST read the entire book for the full effect.

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  17. I am intriqued by this book. The Life of Pi, has been on my to read list, now I'll add this one.

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  18. I truly adored Life of Pi so I can't wait to read this one. Your review has me very anxious to get my hands on it!

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  19. I already have my preconceived motions saying that I might not like this one. I have to read it for That's How I Blog! so I will definitely find out for sure.

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  20. Every time I read about this book, I still get confused exactly what it is about. But I did love "Life of Pi" and I'm sure I'll try this at some point.

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  21. I loved this book!!! Great review!

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  22. I loved this book too!!! Great review! :)

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  23. I still haven't read Life of Pi but I will definitely read it this year. At this rate, who knows when I will get to Beatrice and Virgil!!

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  24. I've read The Life of Pi some years ago and loved it. I think I'd like this as well. Thanks for the review!

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  25. I've seen lots of mixed reviews, which have made me hesitant to read it. Glad to see you liked it, though.

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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  26. Hooray! I'm happy to see this was a success for you. I hope to get to it some time this year, but I'm not holding my breath.

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