Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy by Charlotte Grieg

A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy by Charlotte Grieg is a summer novel that wants to be edgy. Had this been written and published thirty years or so ago it would have been an in-your-face story, bold and daring. Contemporaneously, it could have been an incisive look into the moors and moods of a particular time in recent history. In the end, it is just another beach book that one can easily read in a day. The main character, Susanna, is torn between two lovers, neither of whom seemed irresistible or even desirable to me nor did they evolve or surprise me in the end. Drawn with broad and predictable strokes, Jason and Rob are the same at the end of the novel as they are at the beginning. Susanna’s friends also never vary from who or what they are at the beginning. Susanna herself hardly surprises and the denouement is predictable, which is why this book falls into a safe summer read. Given the author’s appreciation for music, I had anticipated more allusions to the music of the period. Although there are a few references to music and lyrics at the beginning, this is soon forgotten. Given the title, I also hoped to read more philosophical thoughts, discussions, whatever. Instead, the philosophical content only begins to soar in the third part and by then it’s a little too little too late. The opportunity to elevate a cliché theme to something profound was there; however, it was not fulfilled.

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