In The Skin of a Lion

679772669“Bristling with intelligence and shimmering with romance, this novel tests the boundary between history and myth. Patrick Lewis arrives in Toronto in the 1920s and earns his living searching for a vanished millionaire and tunneling beneath Lake Ontario. In the course of his adventures, Patrick’s life intersects with those of characters who reappear in Ondaatje’s Booker Prize-winning The English Patient.

The back cover blurb is a bit of a review in itself, but not much of a give away on the plot or characters. Ondaatje’s novel provides insight into the life of immigrants in Canada during the early 20th century and takes the reader on a fragmented journey through memory and place. Multiple story lines and focalisations create a jigsaw of a narrative that unfolds itself slowly unravelling unique and in-depth personas. The novel explores the nature of memory and the recording of history, change – social and otherwise, violence, love and dreams. In addition, postcolonial themes such as voicelessness, power and issues of identity and nationality are also strong undercurrents. Another enchanting and poetic novel by Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of the Lion is actually on the HSC prescribed text list for Advanced Module B.



The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

SPOILER ALERT: This text is studied in Standard English for the HSC.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

“Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. This improbably story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.”

I think that this book is an outstanding piece of craftsmanship. It is starkly original, portraying the story through the perspective of a boy with Asperger’s-like characteristics. The unique outlook on the world give peculiarity and interest to the most mundane events. It is so clever, if not entirely irritating at times. Haddon makes a shockingly believable character and casts his readers into a world of insecurity, confusion and mathematical genius while developing empathy and understanding. A book about families, trust, the value of truth, the complexity of lies and the all-important quest for independence like no other.

Quite a lot of course language and complex themes. Recommended for readers aged 16 and up. 4 1/2 stars.