Friday, 29 June 2012

Book Review - Engleby by Sebastian Faulks

This was one of my Father's Day gifts from my daughter.  I've read a couple of this authors works before - A Week in December which was well written with some great characters, however the postponement of its release due to Mr Faulks being engaged to write a "new" James Bond novel meant it came out after the 2008 market crash, if it had come out straight after he'd originally written it, it would have appeared more stunning in its predictions.   However last year I then read Birdsong - frankly brilliant.  If you saw the recent BBC dramatisation you sadly missed out, there was at least a 3rd of the story missing in that, there is a view from modern Britain in the book completely missed out.  Again the characterisations were excellent and great writing of a complex plot and interweaving of people's lives and emotions etc.

This book is better again!  Simply one of the best books I've ever read I think.  Strong praise indeed from me.  Why?  Well this is a journal written by Mike Engelby who takes you through his life, from his childhood with his poor mother and father, his father's early death and his move to a public school on a scholarship then to Cambridge.  Engleby is clearly an extremely bright person with incredible memory for detail... hmm and autistic savant?  Maybe - but we are seeing this through his eyes not of others looking in.   Whilst at Cambridge a girl student who he admires a lot disappears and this moment defines in the end his whole life.

This isn't a happy go lucky good feel story - it is dark, it deals with violence, bullying, abuse and above all mental illness.  But it is a story of amazing interest and allows you a glimmer of a view into a mind we'd rarely get to know.

I do thoroughly recommend this with a full two thumbs up and a grin on the FITUBRS but be warned this isn't a book if you are squeamish about how some humans treat others badly.


  1. "FITUBRS"?

    I've had Faulks on the radar for a long time so thanks for the reminder.

    1. Furtheron International Thumbs Up Book Review Scale - surely you've heard of it, all the leading universities on the planet are at this very moment considering it as the globally accepted book quality judging scale.

      Two thumbs down - Utter rubbish, didn't finish it, wish I'd not started it.
      One thumb level - Just got through it
      Two thumbs level - might be me but didn't like it
      One thumb up - worth borrowing, possibly worth buying, definitely worth reading
      Two thumbs up - buy it and read it
      Two thumbs up and a grin - One of the top 10 books ever read by the reviewer

  2. I can remember hearing this reviewed on R4. I quite fancy giving it a go...Thanks :)

  3. Thanks for this recommendation. I've added it to my to read list.