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tíc Book Club: Review of Nocturnal Animals


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Book Review by Molly Johnson

We all agreed that the latest book discussion choice didn’t quite hit the spot and live up to the glowing reviews plastered on the cover. Perhaps the original title “Tony & Susan” should have already indicated a not so exciting read, but despite the difficulty some of us had to power through its 370 plus pages, we did all think it showed some promise at the start.

Austin Wright, the author of this novel – recently made into a movie with a slightly more enticing ‘Nocturnal Animals’ title – has a rather unique writing style. But many of us felt like it lacked any flow, and struggled to get going at times.

Tony & Susan tells the story of Susan Morrow, who receives the transcript of ex-husband Edward’s newly completed novel, Nocturnal Animals. She is tasked with giving her critique on his writing efforts, which she’d struggled to praise during their marriage. While the intention of Wright, we thought, was to create some kind of link between the life of “Tony Hastings” – Nocturnal Animal’s protagonist – with that of Edward and Susan, many of us were left disappointed by the lack of such a revelation.

The book within the book, Nocturnal Animals, started fast-paced with the murder of Tony’s wife and daughter, which got us hooked at the beginning. However, Tony turned out to be quite the wimp in a story that gave plenty of opportunity for a revenge-fueled hero. Tony’s life after the incident, which actually consumed the majority of the pages, went somewhat round in circles, without any real explosion, and several in the group offered their own ideas of a more exciting ending.

We discussed some possibilities of the potential hidden meaning; was Tony reflective of Susan?

Had Edward felt blinded by Susan, leading to the blinding of Tony in Edward’s book? Confused? We were too. But some members of the group did stress that the film, Nocturnal Animals, made much clearer links, and as you hardly ever hear, was actually better than the novel.

While we tried to keep the talk on “Tony & Susan”, we were left wondering if we were wasting ourefforts attempting to analyze a story that perhaps wasn’t supposed to be so deeply explored. The chat soon turned to Christmas and New Year, and how our international group had spent the festivities in their respective home countries, or in their second home in Holland. Some wine and cheese accompanied the gathering, as we picked our next book, hoping it will grip us slightly more in the coming weeks.

#Tilburg #Expats #bookclub #Expatlife #NocturnalAnimals

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