Saturday, 27 June 2009

The Name of the Rose

Title: The Name of the Rose

Author: Umberto Eco

Number of pages: 502

Started: 17 June 2009

Finished: 27 June 2009

Opening words:

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was beginning with God and the duty of every faithful monk would be to repeat every day with chanting humility the one never-changing event whose incontrovertible truth can be asserted. But we see now through a glass darkly, and the truth, before it is revealed to all, face to face, we see in fragments (alas, how illegible) in the error of the world, so we must spell out its faithful signals even when they seem obscure to us and as if amalgamated with a will wholly bent on evil.

Plot summary:

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey where extraordinary things are happening under the cover of night. A spectacular popular and critical success, "The Name of the Rose" is not only a narrative of a murder investigation but an astonishing chronicle of the Middle Ages.

Summary taken from the back of the book.

You can hear Umberto Eco talk about the book here.

What I thought:

I am beginning to wonder if I will ever again find a book that I can say I have enjoyed reading because I seem to have had a real run of books that I didn’t really enjoy. I didn’t hate this book, but I just didn’t really enjoy it. I thought it was rather lengthy and had a lot of Latin and religious ritual and whilst there was murder here and there, the murder plot was not enough to give me any sense of really wanting to know what was going to happen next. I didn’t get a sense of suspense or mystery (unless I saw it as a kind of divine mystery because of all the religious debate that took place in the book). I don’t think historical thrillers are really the book for me. It was well written and had some parts that were fairly engaging, but overall, I found it hard to find the motivation to keep going to the end.


Kahless said...

You need to enjoy a book?
My advice is to go for something less arty!
Maybe a john Grisham or Tess Gerritson.

Kahless said...

What I mean is a fast paced thriller!

Random Reflections said...

Kahless - I haven't read a thriller in ages. I must! I like Harlan Coben and like his sort of book. I am reading The great Gatsby at the moment and am actually enjoying that. Hooray!

Sarah said...

I vaguely recall reading about half of The Name of the Rose. I wanted to like it and didn't not enjoy it, not exactly... There was never even a conscious decision not to read on, just the drift where you suddenly realise that you haven't read in three weeks. (But the evidence suggests that this doesn't happen to you!)

The problem may have been, as you identified, a lack of compulsion to know what happens next.

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - I think I should have given up on it really, but generally I persevere. I have a copy of 'Everything is Illuminated', which I started and then stopped, but am going to give it another go shortly (maybe...). I used to always finish a book, but now I do occasionally think that life is too short...

With The Name of the Rose, I just think it had no sense of suspense to it at all and certainly was not what I would call a page turner.