Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BOOK: The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton, 317 pages

Early Reviewer Book from LibraryThing; Orange Longlist 2010

The plot summary sounded great - after a sex scandal at a private school, the nearby acting school decides to put on a play about the incident. The execution was thoroughly disorienting. Until I read in another review that the girls in the high school were in chapters labeled with days of the week, and the acting students were in chapters labeled with months, I was very confused. That helped a bit. I believe that some of the vignettes (the plot is nonlinear and the view is always changing) were the actual play, but I'm still not completely sure.

I continued reading because it was an Early Reviewer book, and somewhere in the middle, the story became a bit more clear for me. When the story stayed with the acting students I liked it much better. Over all, I don't like reading a story that makes me feel stupid because I can't figure out who anyone is or what is happening. Usually by the end I can have a good picture of the book, but this one left me baffled. Other readers who can deal with such a nonstandard novel may enjoy it, but it didn't work for me.

The Rehearsal was on the longlist for the 2010 Orange Prize, and it certainly had the feel of a 'prize winning' book, but not the kind I like, the kind that are more about the writing and the technique than the story.
I read an interview with Catton in Belletrista, and it made me appreciate her writing and recognize that she was deliberate in all her decisions about the book.

also reviewed:
clare at paperbackreader
jackie at farmlanebooks
buried at buried in print