I have been reading and generally enjoying, sometimes loving the writing of Joanne Harris for a long time. This time with blue eyed boy after reading all 527 pages I am left wondering why I bothered. It was not the writing as that was up to her normal high standards. No this time I just could not get my head around this somewhat strange story. The fascinating aspect of the story and possibly the reason I kept reading was that Synaesthesia plays an important role in the story. Also interesting is that it is written in the form of an online journal. If you have read Gentleman and Players you will recognise the setting for this novel as it is also set in the Yorkshire town of Malbry.
Once upon a time there were three brothers, Black Brown and Blue as they were known by their widowed mother. Blueeyedboy is single, early forties and living at home with his mother. He has a mundane job and no social life apart from his virtual one. He spends a vast amount of time online, on a website he set up it seems to play out his fantasies. Most of his online interaction is with Albertine, with whom in the real world he shares a troubled past. The scenarios he talks about in his web journal are of dark murder. Our protagonist plays out his life on the internet so we slowly learn of his dysfunctional family background and his connections to Emily the blind child prodigy who was also part of his childhood. His mind games will lead you to a conclusion that will not answer all your questions but leave you with something to think about. This I believe was the author’s intention.
It seems I am not alone in my thoughts, as opinion on this novel seems to be very much divided and I quote Joanne Harris : ‘Never has one of my books received such a “Marmite” reaction. Love it or hate it? What kind of reader are you?’ I am not I do not think of a sensitive disposition and I was not terrified as the back cover suggested I might be, I just simply did not enjoy it! Disappointing as after enjoying Gentleman and Players her first psychological thriller, I expected more from this one. Joanne Harris’s writing has in the past tended towards the dark side of human nature but this time I found it just too heavily weighted. Love, Like or Hate this novel will certainly give food for thought especially about the darker side of how one can portray oneself on the internet.
If you have read this I would be very interested to know what your Marmite reaction was.
Amazon author photo.
About Joanne Harris (courtesy of her official website)
Joanne Harris was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels; The Evil Seed (1989), Sleep, Pale Sister (1993) and Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.
Since then, she has written eight more novels; Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, Coastliners, Holy Fools, Gentlemen and Players, The Lollipop Shoes and Runemarks, and most recently blueeyedboy which was published in March 2010, plus; Jigs & Reels, a collection of short stories and, with cookery writer Fran Warde, two cookbooks; The French Kitchen and The French Market. Her books are now published in over 40 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. In 2004, Joanne was one of the judges of the Whitbread prize (categories; first novel and overall winner); and in 2005 she was a judge of the Orange prize.
Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as: “mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion of the system”, although she also enjoys obfuscation, sleaze, rebellion, witchcraft, armed robbery, tea and biscuits. She is not above bribery and would not necessarily refuse an offer involving exotic travel, champagne or yellow diamonds from Graff. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16, is currently studying Old Norse and lives with her husband Kevin and her daughter Anouchka, about 15 miles from the place she was born.
For more fascinating facts visit 101 Facts About Joanne Harris.
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Information, photo and video used in this post is with thanks to the following websites.