Book 4: Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge

crippen-book.jpgThe last book in the Reading Challenge – and it has been a challenge, as I deliberately chose books I would not have picked up in a book shop. The final book I selected was Crippen by John Boyne.

I had heard of Crippen, of course, but given his notoriety, assumed him to be a serial killer – apparently this was not the case. He was convicted of, and hanged for, the murder of his wife. I knew nothing of the background so didn’t know if this was a true crime story or an elaboration on the facts.

I’m having a hard time with this review: the writing itself is fairly good, but the way that it is set out is quite tough to follow. You need to be alert to read this book, as it flits between place and time with each (long) chapter.

It was an engaging enough read (once I got going) but, at times, not a pleasant one. The way in which the author portrayed Crippen made you feel as though he sympathised with him, as you would with a victim of prolonged domestic violence, who had finally snapped. This made me feel a little uncomfortable. Had he used artistic licence or was this really a case of a man driven to the edge by a cruel wife and a domineering mother? I’ve never understood the yearning to write about a historical case and to turn it in to a work of fiction: either it’s based on the facts or it’s a different story altogether.

It was hard to pick up, but also hard to put down (maybe in part due to the long chapters – I hate to put a book down mid-way through a chapter). I’ve had this book for almost a fortnight and only just finished it. That speaks volumes, as I can read a book I enjoy in a day. I’d give this book 5 out of 10. I’d rather read the facts if I wanted to read about a particular crime – I actually had to do some research on finishing this book JUST to clarify things in my mind!

I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge, and hope that I get the opportunity to do this again. I think everyone should try to read something new, now and again: you never know what you might find!