David Lodge – “Author, Author”

15 Oct

GENRE: Historical Fiction / Biographical
PUBLISHED: Penguin Books, 2005

The back blurb:
“1880s London. For the novelist Henry James, a decade that started promisingly draws to its end in anxiety about the failure of his books to sell, and he resolves to seek fame and fortune as a playwright. After five years of frustrating endeavour, everything depends on his make-or-break play, ‘Guy Domville’, which at last reaches the stage on 5 January 1895.

I really liked this novel. I liked its themes and structure. I liked the writing. And I liked how Lodge used James’s way to write when he let him speak. To say something negative here, there are very few instances where the novel seemed to slow down a bit, but overall it kept me interested and I didn’t like to put it down.

There is a second paragraph on the back blurb which sums this novel up quite nicely:

“That dramatic first night is the pivot of David Lodge’s wide-ranging and compelling novel. Vividly depicting the build-up and sequel to what Henry James described as ‘the most horrible hours of my life’, and sensitively portraying his intimate relationships with the genial artist George Du Maurier and the American novelist Constance Fenimore Woolson, Author, Author explores the tensions inherent in a writer’s life – artistic values versus commercial success, friendship versus rivalry, and the price both of fame and obscurity.”

All I can say is: after reading David Lodge’s Author, Author I had the feeling to “know” Henry James (in this way it reads almost like a biography – with all the insecurities connected with this genre); I read three stories by Henry James which were mentioned in this novel right after: The Real Deal, The Aspern Papers and The Beast in the Jungle.

That says something, doesn’t it?

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4,5 / 5


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