Bridge of ClayZusak, Markus
At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking the five Dunbar brothers of Archer Street Sydney were merely larrikins. Abandoned by their father Michael after the death of their mother Penny, they are surviving in feral but loving chaos. But when their father reappears, wanting their help to build a bridge, it is Clay, brother number four, who rises to the challenge of reconnecting the struggling family.
Rich with its allusions to Homer's epics, and strengthened by Michael and Penny's backstories, this is an absorbing and complex family saga layered with love, loss and atonement. And, as with the construction of any successful bridge, persistence is rewarded while the foundations of the story are laid.
Well now! Some of the group loved it, most appreciated the power and quality of the language and the evocative phrases. Other words to describe it were "disjointed" and "hard to see where it's going". Some flicked through while others left it. All agreed - not exactly an easy read.
Our group had mixed feelings about this book. Beautiful story but some questions left never answered. In general we enjoyed the writing but it's a very sad book.
Some people found it 'difficult to get into', others had read it before and liked it even better on a second reading. Most enjoyed the author's style - clean sharp writing where you could hear the characters' voices.
This is a difficult book to evaluate as most book club members did not finish it, and found it very difficult to engage with. Those who did read it rated it very highly. The characters were beautifully drawn; the writing raw and inviting. You really had to work to earn the right to unravel the story - themes of love, sorrow, and family made our discussion deeply meaningful.
Some thought it could have done with more editing as it was so long, but they were absolutely outvoted by the rest, who loved every word! Wonderful word pictures, poetry really - so sad and funny right through.
We all struggled with the style of writing; it was a hard read but most persisted and enjoyed the story in the end.
Three loved this book for its deep story and complexity. Seven found it long winded, and not really able to be understood.
Some didn't like the book and found it hard to get into it. Others decided to press on and found they got to grips with Zusak's prose. This is a story of grief and loss and how these emotions can fragment a family due to each person handling these emotions in their own way. Clay eventually becoming the conduit (hence the 'bridge' in the title) between his father and brothers over time.
A few of our ladies really enjoyed this book. Also thought the author was very clever with a poetry slant all through. Others struggled with the beginning, so either didn't enjoy or gave up and didn't finish.
Reading this book is hard work and takes time. It is a history of a family presented like a patchwork quilt - a bit here and a bit there, jumping around from person to person, place to place and past to present. Hard work does pay off as this is a beautiful book
Only two members read the entire book and they loved it. The rest of us gave up!
Unusual style of writing - quite poetic. Jumps about in time which takes a bit of getting used to. And it's hard to get into but once you get into it, and figure out the story, it's hard to put down. Extremely moving and the characters seem to come to life, like The Book Thief. Some didn't read it but those of us who did, we loved it.
A long read - several members didn't finish it - old eyes and small print. Enjoyed by those who finished, but thought it didn't have the impact of 'The Book Thief'.
A true Australian book that drew you in. Wonderful language at times. But a book that would have benefited from serious editing. Some language seemed forced or stilted, and some scenes just too long. Almost as if he couldn't bear to let any of it go after taking so long to write it.
Intriguing read, lovely ending.
We found this book very complex but, once we got into it, very satisfying. Lots to discuss at our meeting about it.
The writing style is unusual and the story moves back and forth in time making the book difficult to get into. However it is worth persevering. The writing is beautiful with every word given thought and meaning. The story, whilst tragic at times, comes together to a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended, just don't expect another Book Thief.
Mostly hugely enjoyed by those who finished. Deeply emotional portrayal of grief and loss, forgiveness and redemption. The unusual writing style was challenging for some, but perseverance is rewarded by some beautifully poetic, poignant passages which moved us to tears. Start early, it's worth reading to the end!
We felt that 'Bridge of Clay' suffered from high expectations following the universal approval of 'The Book Thief'. Some thought the story disjointed, in part because of switches in contemporary and historical time, and would have benefited from further editing. Other comments included "blokish", reflecting the Australian male's emotional reserve and stoicism. Emotional pace and empathy well handled. Characters stayed in memory.
Book too long. Some loved it, others not so keen. Markus Zuzak is very good at using words.
We all loved this book. This author has a great ability with language.
Challenging, frustrating complex story that we found difficult with the changing timelines. It was fascinating with lots to enjoy in the writing and descriptions. Well worth the effort to read.
The reaction to this book was totally divided, half enjoyed and half didn't. Those who persevered sympathised with the family, appreciated the realistic characterisation, and followed the storyline - although had some difficulty with following the storyline. One of our members likened the family saga to a patchwork quilt. She was also able to explain the symbolism, which gave those of us who enjoyed the book a greater appreciation.
We were challenged by the style and the jumping around in time. The strong themes of loss and grief and the masculine responses to these, provided great discussion. As 'mature ladies', we were often out of our comfort zone and were trying very hard to understand the maleness of the story. Recommended.
This book was not universally liked, but most of us finished it and all agreed that parts of it were well-written, and some were very funny. The read was something of a marathon.
Difficult to get into, but persistence pays off and it is our highest rated book so far. Beautifully written, rich in metaphors, and caused /evoked our longest discussion yet.
We had a very energetic discussion. Some of us LOVED everything about the book, others got frustrated by the non linear sequence. We all thought the language and writing was great.