Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Enchanted Evenings (Book Review: The Last Enchantments, Charles Finch)

Isn't it funny how small moments we share with friends end up being the memories we fondly remember years later? I thought of that as I was reading Charles Finch's THE LAST ENCHANTMENTS. The book tells the story of William Baker, who spends a year studying at Oxford after working in the (losing) John Kerry campaign in 2004.  Last summer, when I was in London I took a half-day trip to Oxford, and I wish I had read this before visiting there, the Harry Potter location references were mostly lost on me, as I never read or saw any of the book/movie franchise. Still, I thought the place was very romantic, and Finch paints a romantic portrait of the place, as well. I always love coming-of-age novels, although this one is of the second-coming type, as the character is already an adult, chronologically, contextually. I love how Finch portrays the adult infatuation/love angle, and is my favorite part of the novel actually. We have all been there, when we have fallen in love, and all of a sudden nothing else matters, but everything does, of course. Baker is surrounded with interesting people around him, too, though I felt some were underwritten. The book is so personal it often felt like a memoir. I ponder if these characters are true or composites.  (I have half a mind to google if there was really a "Timmo" who was cast in Big Brother UK, for example)  The book ends in a very wistful note, and you do feel like you have lived the year with William and his friends, and there's a pinch in the heart as you say goodbye to them.

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