Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Perfect Read

Title: The Lost Symbol
Author: Dan Brown

In his latest novel, Dan Brown turns his focus away from the Vatican and the Illuminati to a group shrouded in equal mystery and esoteric symbology – the Free Masons. When Robert Langdon receives a call in the middle of the night it leads him to an ancient call to action, a call carved from the dismembered hand of his kidnapped friend, mentor and Free Mason Grand Master, Peter Solomon.

This call leads Langdon down the proverbial rabbit hole and leads Langdon and the reader to explore the pagan symbology and imagery replete among the USA’s greatest and most well known monuments. Along this road with Langdon is his mentor’s sister, Katherine Solomon a scientist involved in an obscure branch of science seeking to reveal the mysteries of human nature. The Solomon family is thrown into chaos as they are haunted by the death of Peter’s son and, along with Langdon, are manipulated by a madman seeking his own deadly apotheosis. Typical of a Brown novel, it is a fast-paced race against time to find Peter Solomon and unlock the mysteries of the Masons to save Peter and to save themselves.

The Lost Symbol is fast-paced, it is filled to capacity with action and there’s hardly a moment to reflect on the revelations in the novel as the characters rush and stumble toward one thing or another. Although it is action-packed, it lacks the originality and the flare that makes Brown’s books so exciting. Unlike his most popular novels, the Free Masons are not the enemy in this novel but rather the target of a ruthless attack which has the potential to bring a powerful nation to its knees. It does however deliver that unique Brown flavour guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Title: Angela’s Ashes
Author: Frank McCourt

“Worse that the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” This Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a tale of poverty and hardship as the author takes us on the journey of his childhood from New York to Ireland. Failing to live the American Dream and after losing his sister, Frank and his remaining siblings and parents return to Ireland where tragedy strikes and his father’s alcoholism and his mother’s struggle to provide for Frank’s remaining siblings marks their journey through childhood. A family having old potatoes and boiled pig’s head for Christmas supper, this is a biography seems to be without the expected triumph of the author at the end as he rises from the ashes of his bleak past. Living in a double-story run-down building where the top floor is known as “Italy” and the bottom floor is known as “Ireland” and is prone to flooding, Frank and his family are placed right next to the shared street toilet and have to contend with the resultant…challenges that come with their unique situation.

The first thing that strikes you about McCourt’s writing is the clear and stark recollection of his childhood. Next, is the seemingly endless stretch of tragedy and unfortunate events from losing his siblings to having a father more interested in his next drink than providing for his family. It’s a heart-breaking story where McCourt writes a young man who is haunted by a need to be a man before his time and look after his family while battling with his Catholicism, always at odds with what he needs to do to survive. An autobiography, bleak in its truth and honesty and layered with emotion which takes the reader on a harsh and moving journey.
Compiled By: Mduduzi Makhubo

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