Saturday, 7 December 2013

Then We take Berlin by John Lawton

West Berlin: May 1963

Christina Helene von Raeder Burkhardt had too many names, so was known simply as Nell.

I can't think why this sentence and the info it contains is so important that the opening line of the book is wasted on it, before, you know, a story problem. It doesn't hook me. Perhaps a genealogist, but not a normal person.

The other sentence works better at hooking:

She was attending the first of her twice weekly meetings with the mayor to agree an itinerary for the impending visit of President Kennedy.

This line manages to introduce an event, which is something stories are made of. But it mocks the first line and makes it look even more boring, superfluous, lazy and just plain old out of place. Maybe the sentences in this novel held a contest to see which one would win the prize to be the coveted opening line, and this one won. Oh, well, that's life, I guess.

First thing said:

"McGeorge Bundy gives me a headache."

More weird names (which I prefer over pronouns), but dialogue begins quickly in this book, the second paragraph, in fact, and that is a bonus and one great way to drag people into a novel quickly. It also suggests that this novel won't beat around the bush too much and that the characters will tell the story, and not the author. So despite that horrible opening line, this book shows promise.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

No comments:

Post a Comment