Wednesday, June 17, 2015
This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers | Book Review
Using a pillow book as her form, nineteen-year-old Cordelia Kenn sets out to write her life for her unborn daughter. What emerges is a portrait of an extraordinary girl who writes frankly of love, sex, poetry, nature, and, most of all, of herself in the world. As she attempts to capture “all” of herself on paper, Cordelia maddens, fascinates, and ultimately seduces the reader in this tour de force from a writer who has helped redefine literature for young adults. A book not to be missed by any serious reader.
Blurb taken from: Goodreads.com
The writing style of this book is like nothing I've ever read before.
I had no idea it would be what it was when I found it nestled in one of the quirkiest little secondhand bookstores I have ever seen.
I'd been in Cape Town for a weekend away - a very 'different' weekend away.
It was a weekend where I blossomed.
I learned heaps about myself, discovered new joys in life, gained a tremendous amount of confidence and did a lot of things I'd never done before......
Scary things. Things that could have turned out very differently than they did.
I'd put myself into incredibly dangerous situations.
I was relentlessly taking risks in an extremely vulnerable yet empowered state.
Quite frankly, I was a state.
(much like Cordelia Kenn is in this book... I had no idea I'd connect so much with her character)
I don't regret going to Cape Town on that weekend though.
I grew from it - I gained the most wonderful life experiences that I am sure will be weaved into my novels at some stage or another...
and from that trip I also gained this book...
'This is All':
I struggle to understand how it was written by a man. It's so well described through a female 'voice'. Mustn't have been an easy feat so kudos to him.
At times I could DEFINITELY see that it was written by a man though. Things were said that no girl I know or would ever want to know would say.
The main character is supposedly 15 / 16 years old and I'm sorry but no girl of fifteen that I know is that sexual, intense, mature and downright creepy. She longs to know the smell of his crotch????? Really!? Urgh... and she's writing this book for her daughter!? I'm sorry, but if I had thoughts like that (which I don't.... thank God!) then the last person I'd want to share them with is my daughter!?
I can't be the only one who's creeped out by that????
Heading into Part 2 of 'This Is All' I didn't like that I had to Google how to start reading it (the A & B sections).
It should have been explained in the book.
I feel the writer deletes words from dialog that should be there. Little but important words. It's written in a way that would be unnatural to speak, if that makes sense?
I DO like this book - it's just odd.
The story-line started to intrigue me properly from about half way - which is quite far into an 800+ page book. Nonetheless I'd stuck it out and suddenly wanted to find out what happened next and couldn't help but keep turning the pages. Even the writing style and dodgy characters started growing on me...
I thought I'd gotten passed the flipping back & forth after the A & B sections finished but then they came back... with a vengeance!
This book can be incredibly difficult to read. An absolute (delightful) nightmare.
I say delightful because the size of this book (massive) compared to everything else I have ever read makes it hard. Finding a new section further on makes it quite fun for the size of the work. But how to get back and when???
I must admit that it was tempting to put this book down and give up on a number of occasions - it's not an 'easy' read what with the going back and forth all the time.
Sometimes I'd literally have NO idea how I was supposed to read it and would feel like the book needs to come with a manual.
It's OK to give the reader their freedom to choose where to go first - but explain that in the blurb or in the intro! Something! It hit me square in the jaw (pretty much like some asshole (who likes assholes) who owns a swanky guest house in my home town did once....) and I didn't see it coming. It made me stop reading it for days while I scoured the internet trying to get some help.
Somewhere down the line, I was completely drawn into this book though, without even knowing it.
I got hooked. Maybe it's because you stick it out with Cordelia for so long in this mammoth sized book, but somewhere along the line the book becomes unputdownable.
It's exactly as the book says... Maddening. Fascinating. And seducing.
By far the most unique book that I have ever, ever read.
Bravo to the 70+ y/o male author, Aidan Chambers.
I have no idea how you did it.