August Books 15) Far North, by Sara Maitland; 16) Far North, by Marcel Theroux

I was tickled by the thought of two books with similar titles by rather different authors to the extent of deciding to read them at the same time. They are, however, very different in format. Sara Maitland offers a series of short stories and vignettes, reworking various classic themes including various fair stories; Marcel Theroux’s novel is a post-apocalyptic tale of survival against the odds in Siberia after civilisation has collapsed.

Yet they do have something pretty fundamental in common: both are told from a female perspective. All of the Maitland stories are narrated by women either in first person or very tight third; Theroux’s first person narrator, Makepeace, is one of the few survivors of a wave of American settlers to arrive in Siberia just before things changed forever.

Maitland’s stories are good, and exemplify her English take on magical realism, but I found myself more engrossed in Theroux’s single narrative. He isn’t really known as a genre author, so I was hoping that he would do something a bit different with the post-apocalypse theme. He didn’t really – he advocates a general well-rooted suspicion of authority, plus some well-worn sexual clichés – but it is well enough done as it is.

The Theroux Far North was up for the Clarke award a few years back, but lost (fairly) to The City & The City, whose author is a fellow alumnus of Clare College Cambridge – indeed Marcel Theroux and I were exact contemporaries as undergraduates, though the only time I remember talking to him at any length was as I moved into a house in Eltisley Avenue that he was moving out of immediately after graduation. I may try some more of his work. (I am already a Sara Maitland fan.)

1 thought on “August Books 15) Far North, by Sara Maitland; 16) Far North, by Marcel Theroux

  1. Good heavens, really? I thought it was Friday!!!!

    No time for a celebratory post now but I’ll do one at the weekend.

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