Book Diary: The Enchantress of Florence (Salman Rushdie)

Amy (my sister) bought me this in all its hardback-first-edition-glory for my birthday in 2008.  We have a history with Salman – I studied him for my undergraduate degree and my Masters and me and Amy also went to see him talk about ‘Shalimar the Clown’ at Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2006.  We queued up to get our copies of that novel signed and were reduced to awestruck teenagers when we finally got to talk to him, we were just able to mutter our names and a thank you.  I wish I was exaggerating.

THE ENCHANTRESS OF FLORENCE, Salman Rushdie

(finished reading 03/08/2008)

Compared with Shalimar the Clown, I didn’t get as involved with this story.  I have a feeling (one I don’t like!), that this is due in no small part to my ignorance of the period of history it spans.  Like Midnight’s Children the attention to detail and accuracy are meticulous (I assume).  But I just wasn’t as enveloped by the novel I have been with others by Rushdie.

That said, story for me can often be secondary to language and this novel is lousy with beautiful, inventive and unexpected uses of language.  I really liked the way the chapter titles were taken from the first lines in the chapter, making miniature poems of their own and often lending a totally different meaning or slant to the actual sentence to which it belongs.  Here are some of my favourites:

‘In the day’s last light the glowing lake’

‘At dawn the haunting sandstone palaces’

‘And here again with bright silks flying’

Oh, and the edition itself, the hardcover, the jacket detail and the typography are really special, very beautiful indeed.

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