With the announcement of the Booker Prize winner imminent, and having read five of the books on the shortlist, I am declaring my hand and announcing my winner now: Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel.
It was a close thing though. Right up to the end I have been teetering between Mantel and Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse. Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists was a very close third.
My one quibble with Mantel’s book is that in some chapters a second’s inattention can lead to confusion. Several times I had to hurriedly retrace my steps to pick up the correct thread again. This was one of the main criticisms with Wolf Hall and whilst not so distracting in this sequel, it is still an issue. Overall though, the book is a triumph.
And for anyone wanting a treat on long car journeys, the audio book of Bring Up The Bodies is totally absorbing. Several times I arrived home and spent the next 20 minutes sitting in my parked car completely caught up in the wonderful story.
A confession. I didn’t finish reading Will Self’s Umbrella, the sixth book on the short list. In fact, I have hardly got going with it. Those great slabs of type are totally off-putting. John Banville is quoted as part of the marketing blurb as describing it as “Brilliantly dense.” I am still trying to get beyond the dense.