Advanced search

Sebastian Faulks - ENGELBY

(25 Posts)
hoarsewhisperer Thu 31-Jan-08 10:38:07

Has anyone read it?

Not sure what to think. I found it quite a draining read. Started off feeling veyr sympathetic for him, which waned over the course of the book.....

the conclusion of the story....what shoudl I think? confused!

MamaG Thu 31-Jan-08 10:39:05

Oh I'll lurk here. I've just been given a SF book by my MIL (not this one)

hoarsewhisperer Thu 31-Jan-08 10:40:11

mamag, some of his books are brilliant....birdsong was excellent. He is a very moving writer...there's usually about onepoint in the book when you will actually birdsong i REALLY sobbed!

MamaG Thu 31-Jan-08 10:52:31

She's given me Human Traces - have you read it? I haven't read any of his stuff and TBH I've been avoiding this one a bit, it looks a bit Maeve Binchy grin

MamaG Thu 31-Jan-08 10:53:00

(bear in mind MIL regularly asks me "have you read the new Daniele Steel?" - errrr no grin)

hoarsewhisperer Thu 31-Jan-08 11:21:41

i havn't read that one, but I certainly wouldn't lump Faulks along with Binchy.....

he's "proper literature" doncha know....

I have to admit to admiring his writing style, it's very erudite and he has some interesting ideas. the books always make me think...

MamaG Thu 31-Jan-08 11:22:28

oh good stuff, I will read it then! I have no real reason for lumping him in with MB,m apart from teh cover and the title [shallow]

StrangeTown Thu 31-Jan-08 12:01:07

I enjoyed it hoarse - not his usual stuff, took me my surprise a bit. I don't think I liked the central character at all, even at start, but think SF did a great job of revealing him to us (won't say anymore!)

hoarsewhisperer Thu 31-Jan-08 12:30:28

Strangetown...I think it's more that I felt pity and compassion for him at the start (having been though the whole boarding school thing myself - although not that awful), but the further on I got I just felt more and more uneasy....

catok Wed 06-Feb-08 16:36:24

I found 'Birdsong' and 'Charlotte Gray' excellent; 'Human Traces' was deep, and quite hard-going but I still felt satisfied at the end. 'Engleby' made me feel really uncomfortable and I was glad to get to the end and put it down. It is one Sebastian Faulks which won't have a place on my shelves; but I know other people who think it is his best so far!

beansprout Thu 07-Feb-08 09:55:49

Human Traces needed editing. He was too keen to show us how much research he had done!

3babesfull Fri 08-Feb-08 21:06:33

In theory I love SF's books but I am beginning to see a pattern. Have read Birdsong, Charlotte Gray, The Girl at the Lion d'Or and On Green Dolphin Street. All really good reads but have the same flaw as the Thomas Hardy books I have read. Slightly tricky to reveal more as I don't want to spoil them for others when they are a good read apart from their flaw. How vague is that!

poodlepusher Tue 19-Feb-08 08:58:40

I agree there's a pattern. He is a very compelling writer and I thought Engleby was damned funny as well as spine-tinglingly worrying at times.

But his endings are always a bit rubbish, a bit "pat", like he's copped out and wants things to be twee after a faily un-twee tale.
That's just my take on it though, all very subjective.

MrsJohnCusack Tue 19-Feb-08 09:27:38

I LOVED it but yes the ending was a tad disappointing. very clever the way the character revealed himself and your sympathies wained though

oi Fri 18-Jul-08 19:33:48

I couldn't get through Birdsong but liked this one, was absorbed by it in fact. I didn't mind the ending at all. Thought he created a very vivid picture with his writing...could see in my head all the places he talked about and picture the people.

The only gripe I would say is that (and I know it's fiction) some of it I found almost unbelievable. Like the school. Even though it's fiction, I need to believe that it could have happened iyswim for me to be truly taken in. There were lots of bits like that in it I thought but still a good read.

MrsTiddles Sat 19-Jul-08 16:52:07

that kind of thing can happen (or did) in boys boarding schools. I agree it was horrific and probably the most exaggerated version of that kind of story about school bullying, but what made me feel most upset and sick about it was that it was so close to the truth of things I've been told by male friends who have attended horrible boys boarding schools!

but the book overall I thought was great.

Marina Sun 24-Aug-08 21:13:32

oi, dh and I are 99% sure we know which school SF is referring to in the novel. Have a think about which major public schools are situated close to well-known secure psychiatric units. If we're right, I think Mike Engleby's experiences at the time the novel is set are pretty plausible unfortunately.
I've not got on with a lot of SF's fiction - I thought The Girl at the Lion d'Or and Birdsong were not very enjoyable tbh
I much prefer Engleby. I think it's a great achievement - and agree that the pictures he painted of the various milieux were very compelling and evocative.
The only other thing I've liked of his has been The Fatal Englishman - non-fiction and very gripping. I could not get into Human Traces at all. I just kept bouncing off it.

batters Sun 24-Aug-08 21:17:40

<<not SE London based, is it Marina?>>

oi Sun 24-Aug-08 21:19:15

Hi marina smile.

I suppose being largely brought up abroad maybe means I don't have experience of schools like this. How awful though. One of my teachers at school abroad had a nervous breakdown while I was having a lesson with him (I was nearly 17) and it all poured out about how he went to a v famous Scottish boarding school where they forced him to have cold showers every day and eat horrible food and he was very unsporty and they forced him to dreadful long distance runs in the freezing cold as punishment. It will stay with me forever, the poor poor bloke.

Have you read Sadie Jones, The Outcast book? I read it after this one and they ran quite nicely after each other (though ultimately also quite bleak).

Marina Sun 24-Aug-08 21:22:40

No batters and oi, Berkshire. Ironically enough the current head wants all schoolchildren to have happiness lessons. His predecessors must be revolving in their pits of hell I should think.
I segued from Engleby to Rose Tremain's The Road Home (was on hols, another profoundly affecting novel. I should get past Zadie Smith's excessively annoying smuggery and give her another try. It is so vexing reading a novel when you wish you were within striking distance of the auteur

batters Sun 24-Aug-08 21:23:48

Happiness lessons, like Leona Lewis has had to have to help her enjoy her fame?

That isn't right.

oi Sun 24-Aug-08 21:25:25

oh I remember that happiness lesson story. Didn't realise there was a past sad.

Marina Sun 24-Aug-08 21:32:15

I am not sure the two are directly linked IYSWIM oi. Mr Happiness Lessons is a Career Headmaster (with lots of good ideas, granted) but there is a piquant irony in him launching his campaign from a school that has, in the past, had a reputation for such thuggish brutality.

greenandpleasant Sun 24-Aug-08 21:32:36

Yes just read it, enjoyed it much more than Human Traces but still prefer the war trilogy to his more recent things, other than on Green Dolphin St which made me cry. though the ending was a bit obvious, I kept wondering throughout the book where it was going and thought that what does happen would be too obvious and there must be more to it. Perhaps I have missed something.

MamaG, if you haven't read any SF before I personally wouldn't start with Human Traces. Totally agree with beansprout on editing, I skipped a couple of long sections because it got so involved and research based.

TheRealMrsJohnSimm Fri 29-Aug-08 23:54:57

GandP, totally agree regarding On Green Dolphin Street. Is a beautifully written novel, together with Birdsong which also made me cry in many places. In fact, it is the book which I would probably recommend to others who are new to his work as it is so accessible.

Have been "attempting" to break into both Engleby and Human Traces but haven't got any further than the first few chapters with either.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now