Yes, it has taken me a long time to get to Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. Sometimes too much hype about a book can keep me away. Edugyan emerged out of nowhere in 2011 and became the It girl of Canadian fiction in 2012. There is scarcely a prize for which she wasn’t nominated. This was topped of in 2014 with Canada Reads.
So, if you have not heard already, Half Blood Blues is about a band of beleaguered Jazz men chased out of Nazi Berlin to Paris in the years leading up to the Second World War. The two protagonists, Chip and Sid, grew up together in Baltimore and went to Europe chasing a dream. The dream comes close to reality when Louis Armstrong wants to record with them in Paris. But as is so often the case, war gets in the way.
I think I am in the minority of people who did not like this book. In fact, it was almost a DNF for me. For me the book existed too much in the minds of the characters. I am not much for books of interior exploration. I am fascinated by the social history surrounding both world wars, and would have likes to have seen more of that. That is, after all, what attracted me to the book.
Who would like this book? If you like to read books that are award winners and are the talk of the town, you will want to read Half Blood Blues. That is, ultimately, why I read it. It is also a natural fit for a music lover. Music is at the heart and soul of Half Blood Blues. It may be because I read this back to back with Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose, that I think the two books go nicely together. Both deal with the club scene in the early years of WWII, but of the two I preferred Prose’s book.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of TripFiction, in exchange for a review. Please wander on over to see what I had to say there.
Definitely in the minority. Although I have yet to come across someone that loved it. In the end I was like “that’s it!?” After all that, that was it.
I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I would also have liked more history of the time and places. I did appreciate the writing, though. There was a lot of conversation, and the dialogue and speech was right on.
Although this has been on my to-read list for some time, I think it has been the hype that has put me off thus far too Tanya. I am a music lover though so think I’ll still give it a go – just with realistic expectations.
Yeah, just forget about the fact that everyone was talking about it!
I’ve been wanting to read this since it came out, so I’m sorry to hear it didn’t live up to the hype! I think I would be disappointed that there wasn’t much social history, too.
I really liked it. I think I liked it more for the writing style than I did for the overall story. At first I was surprised that it was the darling of the awards season, but she is a very talented writer. Probably not what I would have picked as the Giller winner, but was what I predicted would be picked.
I do think Edugyan is a good writer and I will be interested to read whatever she publishes next, but I still wasn’t blown away by this. I think there is a reason why i didn’t get around to reading it for several years.
OMG, I’m so glad you didn’t like it because that keeps me from feeling guilty that I have NO DESIRE to read this whatsoever. Hype be damned!
I had no desire to read it either but was asked to review it. I should have known better.
Too bad you didn’t enjoy this read. I listened to it on audio and loved the hell out of it. If I had to read it in the dialect that it’s in, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it either.
It wasn’t the dialect that was a problem. I actually thought she did a really good job at that. I just didn’t connect with the characters or their stories.
I think Jackie read this one for us here at the Literary Hoarders – she had a really hard time getting to the finish line on this one as well! For myself – there is just something about it that has never caught my fancy.
I wasn’t particularly interested in it, then it was picked for Canada Reads and it entered my head again and then I was asked to review it and I thought, why not? But I don’t know if I would have gotten to it on my own. And I definitely wouldn’t have finished it.
Pingback: May Round Up! | 52 books or bust