This post is dedicated to Joanne Harris - one of my all time favourite authors. Although most widely known for being the author of Chocolat (which personally I don't think it's her best work), she has written a number of other masterpieces.
If you haven't read any of her books yet, you really REALLY have to read Gentlemen and Players. When I read it I was intrigued beyond words: very intelligent plot as towards the end it proves to be much more complex than the reader initially thinks, very 'human' characters, exploration of taboo topics, graphic and detailed descriptions of feelings and behaviors, and (my favourite!) interchanging personas! Although the interchanging personas are a characteristic of several books by Harris, it never seizes to excite me each time. How can you better communicate a character's thoughts and feelings if you don't let them do the talking? And do this for all the main characters in the book?! I'll tell you this: I was on holiday in the Greek island of Santorini, and anyone who has been there can assure you that you have every reason to go out. Well, I did go out, but not without Gentlemen and Players!
Don't get me wrong, I love her other books as well, with a sliiight preference for Jigs & Reels, her collection of short stories published in 2004. Arguably writing a good short story is more difficult than writing a book: the story has to encapsulate the plot, the techniques as well as the feelings and the behaviors of the characters in far fewer words than a regular book. What is more, I love the way she gives voice to characters that one would normally ignore. In one of the stories, the persona is one of Cinderella's evil stepsisters. AND she falls in love with the bad wolf from Red Riding Hood, who is apparently hurt by RRH's behavior. Now, who else does that other than Joanne Harris?! (Maybe Carol Ann Duffy in The World's Wife, but I'll discuss that in another post).
Next on the reading list: Blue-eyed boy by Joanne Harris (yes, I'm a bit left behind, but I have courseworks to write and lectures to attend!)