Two books published earlier this year that I have only just got round to reviewing; Exodus by Lars Iyer and The Hive by Gill Hornby.
What to make of the two shambling philosophers we come across in Lars Iyer's latest book Exodus. It is published by Melville House who are New York based but have recently opened an office in London. Exodus is the third book in Iyer's trilogy; it follows Spurious (2011) and Dogma (2012). Lars, our narrator and his fellow academic W, are off on a lecture tour to investigate the destruction of philosophy (and their jobs) in the universities of Great Britain. As Lars records W's ramblings, much is made of Lars half-Danish descent and much reference is made to philosophical scorn about the world at large. The extent of this large reference condemns the book to a niche readership. Now, not all books are for all readers, but this book has a very specific appeal and it ain't gonna be to everyone's taste! I found myself equally veering between smug giggles at intelligent insights and exasperated sighs at the indulgent wanderings of the text.
There is no doubt that Iyer has his fans will revel in the continuation of themes present through the now three novels but for readers new to the philosophy bro's it is sometimes an uphill struggle to decide whether it really is worth the effort of continuing. You'll have to try him yourself to see which camp you fall into.
Gill Hornby is a writer and journalist and The Hive is her first novel. No stranger to the publishing world, Hornby is married to the author Robert Harris and sister to Nick Hornby. Released to great excitement, it had been subject to a seven-way bidding war and the rights to the film were sold before it was published. Straight into the top ten bestselling books list it is one of those books that for a certain reader will hit a spot where they are saying, "oh yes, I know someone just like that!"
'The Hive' of the title is the collective of women amassed at the school gates who make up the committees and organise the bake-sales. The mover and shaker of this little political circle is Bea (the Queen 'Bea') and all her worker bees flutter around her being allocated tasks. But this book is not all 'yummy mummy'. We have Georgie, a very appealing character, whose house is an absolute tip but is at heart an earth mother and has a romping relationship with her farmer husband Martin. Rachel is/was Bea's best friend, a children's illustrator recently separated from her husband who is quickly realising her status with Bea is changing. Heather is desparate to be 'part of the gang' and then there is Deborah or Bubba who is on a career break and doesn't quite get the politics of the school gate yet.
The characters are very well drawn and will and have already entertained many. In fact as you read it, once you come to know that it is to be made into a film, you can absolutely see how each of the mum's (and some dad's too) will be portrayed (Georgie is Felicity from The Good Life!) It is much more than chick lit but at the same time it will be hugely appealing to women (and men?) of a certain age, that is those with children in primary school who recognise and identify with the characters.
The Hive is published by Little, Brown.