Breakfast with the Nikolides – Rumer Godden – 3 stars
Rumer Godden is a British-born writer who was brought up in India, so with this information in mind I was really excited to have a read of something she’d written – I thought her perspective would be interesting. ‘Interesting’, though, is perhaps a little generous.
Don’t get me wrong, the writing is beautiful. As long as you have no aversions to excessive use of ellipses, I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy this book; Ms. Godden builds up a sense of place very thoroughly, glazing everything with a touch of magic that just teeters on the edge of incredibility.
The characters, too, are carefully and laboriously built up, and shout-out to Rumer for pulling of numerous switches from third person to first – RESPECT. The smooth delves into the characters’ consciousness were probably the book’s biggest redeeming factor for me.
So what was not to like? The plot for one thing…the dog’s death (I’m not counting that as a spoiler; it’s on the blurb!) did nothing for me emotionally, and as a lot of the events in the book stemmed from this, it just wasn’t the most thrilling story.
While I believed in Emily, Louise, Narayan, Shila and Anil completely (I’ll just re-iterate that Godden’s creation of character is generally fantastic), I didn’t feel like we got to know Binnie as well as I’d have liked, especially as she was constantly present. She was overlooked narratively as much as Emily was overlooked by her mother, so perhaps that was intended irony? Also, I did wish we could have seen more of Don’s personality. I realise he was just the dog, but I didn’t feel attached to him at all which made his death less effective than it could have been.
This book was, in all, a nice read. Perhaps a little slow, and leaning towards the abstract rather than action. It didn’t inspire any deep thinking in me, despite passing references to Hinduism and a great deal of content dealing with family conflict, and it didn’t affect me emotionally. I could in no way write this off as a mediocre book, but neither could I class it among my favourites.
If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!