Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry

It's a beautiful night and no mistake.

I don't now about anyone else but I find this sentence somewhat confusing. What is not the mistake? That it is not beautiful or that we shouldn't doubt it, as in make no mistake about it. Or more probably, that this beautiful night was no mistake and was designed this way by someone or something? As well, beautiful night alludes to weather, so we'll tag the weather opening cliche to this one. The next line and rest of the opening paragraph is:

You would never think there was a war somewhere.

This opening paragraph is in quotes meaning someone is saying this. Next line:

These less than prophetic words were spoken by a young navy second lieutenant, on the wide, night-bedarkened deck of our supply ship, bound for Accra.

The use of night-bedarkened  makes this line overwritten. Plus, though I'm no expert, in the navy I don't think there is a rank of second lieutenant; sub-lieutenant or junior lieutenant I've heard, but second lieutenant is a rank in the army equivalent to ensign in the navy. A cursory search online seems to confirm this.

So this opening basically establishes that this is a historical novel set during World War II, but with inaccurate information one wonders how effective this will be at immersing the reader into the time period. I suspect for most people it will work as they don't really care about little things like facts, grammar and punctuation when reading a story.

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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