Friday, 12 August 2011

Room - Emma Donaghue

Synopsis - Jack is five, and excited about his birthday.  He lives with Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures eleven feet by eleven feet.  He loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows nothing he sees on screen is truly real - only him, Ma and the things in Room.  Until one day Ma admits there's a world outside...

Review - My first reaction when commencing reading this book was, oh!, I'm not sure if this is for me.  Contrary to the opinions of those who liked the style written in the voice of the five year old Jack, I didn't find the writing style at all endearing.  My first reaction was why is the Mother keeping him in the Room?  It did not become clear until later on that they were prisoners of Old Nick and what the circumstances were.  Once this became clear, my question was:  Is the book based on the real Austrian case (Josef Fritzl) who kept his daughter locked in a basement which Ms donaghue re-wrote as fiction?  Or has the author just used this case as an idea for a novel? 

Once Ma and Jack escaped from 'Room', for me the book came into its own.  This is where I found it interesting and really developed.  How they coped with the outside world and the media.  The emotions, separation anxiety, difficulties adapting to 'outside'.  My view on the writing of such a story, although disturbing - in as much as being a parent I don't like reading about children in these situations or being hurt in any way.  I think what Ms Donaghue has done is put these scenarios on the map.  Until the Josef Fritzl case came out, this was almost unheard of and in our copycat world, I fear there must be many more of these 'prisoner' situations.  3*

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