Monday, February 16, 2009


Title: Portobello

Author: Ruth Rendell

Date Finished: February 16, 2009

Personal Book Count: 14 out of 100

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Genre/ Subject: Fiction

First Line: It is called the Portobello Road because a very long time ago a sea captain called Robert Jenkins stood in front of a committee of the House of Commons and held up his amputated ear.

Summery: From the dust jacket-
The Portobello area of West London has a rich personality- vibrant, brilliant in colour, noisy with graffiti that approach art, bizarre and splendid. An indefinable edge to it adds a spice of danger. There is nothing safe about Portobello.

Eugene Wren inherited an art gallery from his father near an arcade that now sells cashmere, handmade soaps and children’s clothes. But he decided to move to a more upmarket site in Kensington Church Street. Eugene was fifty, with prematurely white hair. He was, perhaps, too secretive for his own good. He also had an addictive personality. But he had cut back radically on his alcohol consumption and had given up cigarettes. Which was just as well, considering he was going out with a doctor. For all his good intentions, though, there was something he didn’t want her to know about.

On a shopping trip one day, Eugene, quite by chance, came across an envelope containing money. He picked it up. For some reason, rather then report the matter to the police, he wrote a note and stuck it up on a lamp post near his house:

‘Found in Chepstow Villas, a sum of money between eighty and a hundred and sixty pounds. Anyone who has lost such a sum should apply to the phone number below.’

This note would link the lives of a number of very different people- each with their obsessions, problems, dreams and despairs. And through it all the hectic lives of Portobello would bustle on.

Why did I pick this book? : I received it as an ARC off of librarything. I thought the summery looked interesting, and had always wanted to try a Ruth Rendell book.

Review: This book wasn’t as dark and scary and mysterious as I had hoped. I heard many things about Ruth Rendell (but this was my first to try and read her), and this didn’t seem to fit the description of her type of writing. I was wondering if I had got my authors mixed up, but then I read other reviews that said this wasn’t typical of her style.

I found this book a tough start. The first night I tried to read Portobello it was late, and I had to put it down and sleep, I couldn’t follow it at all. The second time, I was still confused at the end of the first chapter, but chose to disregard it and press on. There was a lot of history, and new characters in those first few pages, many or which were not consequential, except for being ancestors of the characters in the story and isn’t it funny, in a small world kind of way.

It was not a mystery as I was expecting (or at least a suspense) but more of a funny how small details and decisions affect ours and so many other lives in big ways. And how everybody’s life is intertwined with everybody else’s in some way.

If one thing drove me crazy, it was one of the main characters obsessions with a candy called chocorange. I get it. He is addicted. But do I have to hear HOW addicted, and how this is affecting the way he goes to work or eats his sandwich or drinks his sherry every 5 pages in great detail? I really felt like it was getting ridiculous toward the end the amount of words wasted on this candy, and if there was anything that would have made me put down the book, that would have been it.

On the most part I liked the ending, but I’m a sucker for an ending where everybody gets what I think they deserve. This was the case for all but one person, so I guess I’ll have to take what I can get. I think I’ll have to try one more Rendell book to see if I like this author or not.

Agree? Disagree? Recommendations? Any insights, suggestions, or comments on the book or format, or blog at all are most welcome. If you have read this and/ or review it yourself, please let me know. Can you think of any books like this? Give me a recommendation! =D

No comments: