Monday, November 10, 2008

The Enchantress of Florence

The impression of Salman Rushdie's work that I have gotten over the years, based primarily on the controversy over The Satanic Verse, was that I wouldn't particularly enjoy reading it. But in the bookstore last month, The Enchantress of Florence called to me, with its rich cover, intriguing plot description, and (I admit) famous author, so I bought it. It turns out that I love Rushdie's use of language, his very-human characters, his historical settings, and his careful inclusion of subtle magic. But best of all was the plot - complex, well-paced, coherent - and the ending, which makes perfect sense but wasn't in the least predictable.

When I went looking for a link for this entry, I found that reviewers for the New York Times disdained this book as meandering, pious, and full of writerly self-congratulations; but then, the reviewer admits to finding "the marvelous tedious and the tedious... marvelous", so he probably shouldn't have been reviewing this book in the first place. On the other hand, Ursula K Le Guin thinks it is a wonderful book. Lucky for authors and publishers that there is such a diversity of opinions among readers.