Very Private Gentleman, A
As suggested by its title, this story involves a gentleman who really values his privacy. He has good reason to; his passion for painting rare butterflies disguises his true occupation of producing designer guns for assassins. As he makes plans to retire, his past is set to catch up with him, shattering the peace of the Italian village that he has made his home. With a likeable anti-hero, clever build-up of tension and its beautiful descriptions of the countryside, this well crafted novel with challenge and delight the reader with its deceptions and moral conundrums. Also published as 'The American'.
Comments from Groups
A beautifully written book, but strangely chilling. The main character is interesting and completely unlikeable... a book worth reading if only for the excellent prose. Hamilton 029
This book generated one of our best discussions yet. A sophisticated sort of who dunnit. Beautiful writing, we all wanted to visit the village in Italy - despite the assassin visitor. Nelson 044
Fantastic author, great complex story - very vivid and descriptive. Enjoyed by all. Timaru 016
Mixed reaction, most enjoyed, but there were reservations about the main character. We are keen to see the film, even though no one could see George Clooney in the main role! Stimulated a good discussion about morality, nationality and motivations. Nelson 015
We were divided, those who finished the book enjoyed it, some found it took a while for the story to get going. New Plymouth 014
Very interesting discussion. Style of writing much appreciated - lyrical and graphic. We could 'see' the countryside. Main character was very unusual, deluded in some ways - calling himself an artist!
All agreed that it was a very cleverly constructed novel. The questions were very good and we had a good discussion.
Many of our group did not appreciate this book - only half of our members finished reading it. BUT it did create a very interesting discussion - on human behaviour, our ability to justify our behaviour, and our moral outlook.
As a group we did enjoy the language in this book. However we all felt the story was too long and many of us skipped through the pages.
Once again a wide range of views on the book as an entertaining piece of literature. Many members expressed disgust at the main character's actions re self preservation and his lucrative occupation involved in assassination - no conscience! Others enjoyed the pleasant side of the novel with descriptions of the Italian countryside, village life, and food. The author did well to create such a main character who generated sympathy despite having such a vile occupation.
This one got a mixed reaction. Some liked it, some didn't. We all agreed it was beautifully written.
Booth is a really good writer, but this group didn't like the story and 'assassins'.
A great concept but many members found it meandering. A blend of high tension with scenic ramblings and musings.
We all agreed that Martin Booth was very keen on detailed descriptions, often of things we did not really need to know about eg. how to build guns! Others loved his description of the Italian villages and their surrounds. All found the ending rather abrupt and disappointing.
The book did not go down well with our group , as it took 70 odd pages for a plot to emerge and the plot moved very slowly from there on in. We found it hard to believe an Englishman could blend into a small Italian village and his comings and goings not be noticed or suspicions aroused . The descriptions of the Italian countryside were good - but in comparison to his other books such as Gweilo , this was a poor second.
Group members enjoyed the great descriptions of the Italian countryside and village life. The ending was well done, but the action was a long time coming.
2/11 did not love this book - the others did!! Amazingly drawn imagery - a delight to savour, page by page.
The group felt that they quite enjoyed the book, particularly the prose - but felt the character was a bit unbelievable.