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Dept. Of Speculation

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In June 2014, I wrote a nothing review about a nothing book. I posted it on Amazon, but thought the review was not good enough to post on BGO and the book was inconsequential enough that it wouldn't be missed.


But now, it seems, the book has been shortlisted for the Folio Prize 2015 and everyone is raving about it. What do I know? So, just for completeness, here is my 2014 review. The only thing I would add is that if the book was forgettable at the time, it has evaporated completely from my memory now. All I can recall is the cover that inspired me to read it in the first place.



Dept of Speculation is one of those ultra-short novels (OK, let's be honest, it's a novella) where one is supposed to interpret the brevity and fragmentary nature as a mark of brilliance. To be fair, Dept of Speculation is very delicate and is carefully formed. It offers a wonderful insight into the mind of a woman who has been wronged but still loves her husband. We see the mental wrangling and reconciliation of the self in a way that can preserve dignity. It feels well done; it feels authentic.

But is it enough to sustain a novel(la)? This reader was torn between an immediate re-read to pick up the subtlety or setting it aside and letting time take its course. It was a close call, and the latter option won. The result, I'm afraid, is that most of it evaporated pretty quickly. So, a pleasant and thought provoking read, but one which doesn't leave a deep impression.



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