The Marble Collector
Ho ho hello! Wow oh wow! It’s nearly Christmas. I hope you all asked for books this year from Father Christmas. You know that no holiday season would be complete without a bit of reading cheer. I also hope you’re preparing to give to your friends and family (and that you’ve got a book or two in their Christmas stockings).
In this spirit of giving, this week I decided to give you a break from The List and my Challenge which I hope you are all feverishly enjoying trying to pursue. So, today I am reviewing a book that was given to me as a gift last Christmas. When I picked up Cecelia Ahern’s The Marble Collector, part of me was curious. I love a good mystery and it seemed, from the blurb on the back, that this was going to be one mysterious (mis)adventure.
The Moon made me do it. That is Sabrina’s only excuse as she gets caught up in a mystery that has both shaped and will change her life forever: who is this man she calls father? Of course, she knows he is her father biologically but who is he really? Does she even know him? Fergus Boggs is an ordinary man from a large, broken family. But, he has one big secret. A secret that separates him from the ones he loves the most and threatens to destroy his whole life. And this secret has to do with…. marbles…. With only one day to do it, can Sabrina figure out this dark mystery and remind her father about the biggest secret he may have forgotten?
So, as you might have suspected (Spoiler alert – just in case), this book has two different perspectives. One is that of Sabrina and the other of Fergus. The story also spans through past and present, sometimes reflecting and sometimes working on the main mysterious plot, and it’s not always through the same perspective that the reader sees the past or present. Why am I telling you all this? Well, the thing is, when you have multiple perspectives and multiple time-frames, it is rather hard to capture in a movie with a beginning, a middle and an end. Where do you start telling the story? From the chronological beginning? But that takes away from the mystery. Do you follow the book’s sequence of telling? Well, arguably, this might be the only real way to maintain the spirit of the novel. But, then you may run into a problem. The problem is that I must admit all the jumping backwards and forwards in the book did sometimes leave me a little confused and disoriented. I found myself occasionally flipping back to a previous section in order to figure out what I was reading. Now, imagine the confusion of a visual image, constantly changing, not only perspective but time as well. Moving between past and present. Focusing on things that already happened or seeing a part of the plot after another aspect has been revealed that confuses everything.
What I am trying to say is that while I did enjoy the book, producers and directors beware. This will not, I don’t think, make a very likable film. There are some films out there that have just confused me so much that I’d rather not rewatch them because they actually annoyed me. And while the book is good, I wouldn’t make it into a movie for (justified) fear that it wouldn’t only be a nightmare to edit but has the serious potential to just annoy someone to the point where they dislike it. Bottom line: this book does Not have a movie counterpart and that’s great; let’s all just stick to reading the book. 🙂
In my Humble Opinion
Alright, so I’ve already said I enjoyed the book. To be honest, I didn’t think I would when initially started reading. You know how, sometimes, you read the first chapter of a book and think to yourself: what else s there in my bookshelf for me to read? At first, I had that problem. I actually had to force myself to take only that book on a weekend away, which forced me to read it (I’m never without a good book). But, once I got into it, I really got into it. And then I simply couldn’t put the book down.
So, why did I enjoy something I thought I was going to hate? The solution to enjoy this book relies (sorry all you non-bookworms) on an appreciation for writing. Hands up (or you can comment below, if you like) all my bookworms out there who have a habit of reading or hearing something great and dwelling on it in everyday life. I do that all the time. The other day, I was watching a television programme where a woman was getting really frustrated with a man and her response to him was: you know, everyone is entitled to be stupid, but you really abuse the privilege. Haha! I loved that. Well, as I have come to realise myself, writers do that too only with really great plot lines. Only the other day, I was really bored with something because the plot was so simplistic and predictable. I tend to dwell on writing that is really exceptional and makes me think about how I write.
And Ahern made me do this. As I read The Marble Collector with all its perspective changes and plot twists, I found myself reflecting on how I can use this in my own writing. While her perspective and time changes confused me, they also thrilled me. Not only did they leave me in absolute suspense and desperately wanting to read more but I also marveled at how she could take two different stories, two different perspectives and intertwine them so while still keeping them straight. It was ingenious. The way each chapter changed perspective and time. But, the two stories still flowed within the main plot. I was exceptional.
Of course, as with any novel you read without back story, there were a couple of plot holes I noticed. One, in particular, was the presence of a woman and no indication of really how she connected with the other characters in the time sequence. She was just there and had a minor, and confusing, role to play in the plot. It’s hardly surprising, though, that there were plot holes what with all the changes in time and perspective throughout the book.
So, to conclude this almost-festive blog post, I must give the gift of sincere apology to Cecelia Ahern. I judged your book in the beginning (but not by its front cover ;)) and judged it badly. It was a great book. And to all you would-be writers out there. Here’s a gift for you: for a little helpful inspiration on perspective and suspense, read The Marble Collector. You may just find it a gift to yourself that keeps on giving.
I hope you all have a superb Festive Season. May Father Christmas bring you tons of books you can read and share with us. And remember to catch my very special New Years post next week. Until then….
Happy (Christmas) Reading!