I just finished hosting my book club at which the discussion was The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard (aka The Great Bore).
I HATED this book which is a pretty strong emotion for me to feel about a book. I always try and slug through a book even if I don’t like it when it’s for my book group, and I did manage to finish this book but it was not without great effort. The reason that I am still awake to even post this blog is that half of my book group loved the book, and we got into a somewhat rousing discussion and now I’m all riled up…….
The book is set in post-war Japan and is “supposedly” about the great romance between a thirty-something British guy, Aldred, and a 17 yr old naive girl, Helen, (who takes care of her terminally ill brother) living in Hiroshima right after WWII. Aldred is portrayed throughout the book as the ultimate hero and the whole book is framed around their tragic love story. There are a myriad of sub-plots, none of which made sense or where meaningful to me, so I’m not even going to go into them.
What amazes me about this book (which did win the National Book Award for fiction in 2003) is that as boring and painful as I felt the book was, there are many who were mesmerized by it and found that it was one of the most well written books they had read. Within my group – it both captivated and turned off an equal number of readers.
And for that reason alone – I want someone else to read it “To Bore or not to bore?” – that is the question.