Customer Review

58 of 76 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disconnected Misery, July 13, 2014
This review is from: The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan is blurbed as a "mesmerizing" and "luminous" sprawling epic. The story of an Australian World War II hero, Dorrigo Evans, who has survived POW status, the novel covers the horrors of building the Burma Road and Railroad. Flanagan offers numerous points of view throughout.

Unfortunately, the story meanders from the boudoir of a prostitute to the marriage bed and off to the cot of the Japanese officer. The guards in charge of the prisoners tire of beating them, finding the job enervating and fruitless. How does one coax more work out of dying, starving men?

Without a central story propelling the pages forward, I found the book lifeless and frustrating. Though Flanagan is certainly a gifted writer in his nuances and observations, the sheer lugubriousness of the prose does not make for a summer read. THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, KING RAT, and A TOWN LIKE ALICE offer a clearer look at the desperate quest for supremacy called the War in the Pacific of World War II.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 28, 2014 3:40:33 PM PDT
Avid Reader says:
Thanks for this review. I had the same reaction to the story's "meandering" construction. I really wanted to like the book--it's long-listed for the Booker prize, for pete's sake. But I didn't like the majority of the book, and found the writing distracting in many places. From page 110: "She watched him, his muscles little hidden animals running across his back..." Another stopper: How Amy "arouses" and "delights" Dorrigo with her "entrancing snaggle-toothed smile." And the dialogue: "Love him. No. I didn't. Besides." There are very worthwhile parts to the book, but entire sections are hindered by clumsy writing.

Posted on Aug 31, 2014 5:39:27 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 16, 2014 12:50:26 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2014 6:17:10 AM PDT
Interesting observation, Brian. I will run it by my shrink!

Posted on Oct 4, 2014 7:38:06 PM PDT
Sue Terry says:
I have to disagree Eileen. I love A town like Alice but its conception of life, love and war is pretty simplistic and "heroic", compared to this novel's exploration of issues like "goodness", of why men do what they do and how they rationalise it to themselves (in war and in peace). This is not a book about "the desperate quest for supremacy" but about what that quest meant for those involved, and it offers no simple answers.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2014 2:15:41 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 5, 2014 2:16:08 PM PDT
That's an interesting point about the portrayal of war, Sue. I am always open to hearing the other side of the argument for/against a book as opposed to a personal put down! I'll reread both books after cataract surgery. We'll see if I observe the world in a whole new way. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2014 5:29:45 PM PDT
Sue Terry says:
Thanks for listening Eileen ... I probably should reread A town like Alice too as it's been a long time, and I am going on memory but I did feel Flanagan has a strong story running through the book. (I did love your response to Brian! I thought "good for you"). Good luck with your surgery.

Posted on Oct 7, 2014 10:12:32 AM PDT
L. Wanschura says:
What "prostitute" are you referring to?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2015 6:54:23 AM PST
ben scaro says:
The problem with 'A Town Like Alice' is the cheesy attempt to appropriate the experience of the Burma Railway survivors in support of a particularly treacly, laborous, Christian symbolism. My grandfather was one of those survivors, and I found that portrayal in poor taste and did not read further. I'd initially read it as a teenager and seen the film, many years before. But as an adult, I found the whole thing just a little bit 'off'.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2015 7:14:15 AM PST
Ben, I did not notice the symbolism in my read through. Thanks for pointing it out so that I can take a second look. I just know "A Town Like Alice" and the war/prisoners made a huge impression on me when I read it the first time.
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Eileen Granfors
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Location: Cape Fair, MO

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