Newest Review: ... also heavily in competition with one another. And it is on this foundation that Zadie Smith weaves a tale that takes us through the ups ... more
Worth a read
On Beauty - Zadie Smith
Member Name: UK1981_female
On Beauty - Zadie Smith
Advantages: Believable characters
Disadvantages: Didn't like the end
'On Beauty' is written by Zadie Smith, also author of the famous 'White Teeth'. I have not actually read 'White Teeth' or any other novel by Zadie Smith however. I picked up 'On Beauty' a few years ago from a bookstore, but having re-read it recently I thought I would write a review on it.
The story is set mainly in New England, US and briefly in London, UK. It centres around two separate families, of whom the fathers - Howard Belsey and Monty Kipps - are both rather prominent academics in the field of art history, and also heavily in competition with one another. And it is on this foundation that Zadie Smith weaves a tale that takes us through the ups and downs of family life, the pain and confusion that family disasters bring and she manages to make the reader question what is right and whether it is ever really as simple as being right or wrong.
For me, the best thing about this book was how each and every single character in this book seemed to be a 'real' person behind their name and identity. The characters were thus in no way two dimensional, each character, both central and supporting, had their own set of emotions, feelings, and all were very believable. This definitely made this book more engaging.
The storyline was somewhat simple. It focused on two families, more so on the Belseys and the problems that affect them, more than twenty years in to their marriage. It touches (but does not focus) on some of the issues that might affect an interracial marriage and often tackled them in a light-hearted and humorous way. It also deals interestingly with how children can be affected by the way that adults in a family behave - this aspect of the book was explored particularly well especially as each character seemed to have an important part to play and their own unique identity.
I would only criticise the length and the ending - it was a little too long at 443 pages. I found myself getting a little impatient towards the end as I felt it was a bit drawn out. Not only that, but I found the ending itself a little bit cheesy and a little bit complicated too. I just didn't totally get it and had to re-read the last couple of pages only to find that I still didn't like it that much!
Overall however, it was worth reading and I would recommend it, perhaps as a holiday read. If I could, I'd give it 3.5 stars out of 5.
Summary: Worth a read