Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox (2015)

John Wonder lives an unusual life. He has three families, each living in a different country, separated from each other by oceans. In each family, he has a wife and two children. Each pair of children is made up of a boy and a girl, with the son (Adam) older than the daughter (Evie). John spends one week in three with each family, living a carefully delineated life. This unusual life is possible because John Wonder is an unusual man. John works as an Authenticator, travelling the globe authenticating the type of feats that are recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records. Born without a scent, he makes himself innocuous, unnoticeable and unseen.

The Wonder Lover opens strongly, with the unusual (that word again!) literary device of being narrated collectively by all six children. In full disclosure, I borrowed this from the library thinking it was Marion Halligan's Goodbye Sweetheart, so I had a completely different idea of what the book was going to be about. That said, once I realised I what I had done, I went with it. The first half of the book is very well written and I was fascinated by the story of the determinately non-interesting man who had built up such an interesting life. But then, halfway through the novel, the author commits an unforgivable sin: John's world starts to fall apart because he meets Cucina, whp is thirty years his junior and the world's most beautiful woman.

It's time for some ranting. The year is 2015. Lolita was published in 1955. Since then, there have been many books, so so so many books, where the plot resolves around an old man lusting after a younger woman. This plot line needs to stop. It needs to die. It has been done to death and it's disgusting, creepy, always sexist and often downright misogynist. Worse still, it's boring. I want books to entertain me, engage my mind, make me think, make me care about characters and events and be interesting. THERE SHOULD BE NO MORE BOOKS WHERE OLD MEN LUST AFTER YOUNG BEAUTIFUL WOMEN. The quota of books containing that storyline has been reached. There are enough tales telling that particular story. There is literally no way this story can be retold in a new and interesting way. Please, let no author ever write about it ever again. It's time has come.

I did finish the book because I wanted to see what happened. Unfortunately, the end of the book is quite stupid. The women characters who appeared so intriguing at the start of the story end up as caricatures and it was all strangely unsatisfactory. The Wonder Lovers gets two stars and a time-out in the naughty corner.

No comments:

Post a Comment