Tuesday 2 October 2007

Tender is the Night

The Tenderness of Wolves had two connotations in my mind before I'd even read the first page, and neither of them are very relevant or reverent to the book. Firstly, The Carbon Copy supports the English football team Wolverhampton Wanderers, which is abbreviated to Wolves by all and especially sundry. Though I no longer share an abode with him, I still think of Wolves as essentially a football team.

More in my own territory, the word 'tender' has connections with As Time Goes By. Anyone else love this sitcom starring Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer? Essentially very little happens, but it happens with a charm and wit which is unparalleled. The Hardcastles are given a county house, the gardener of which is called Lol Ferris - and he, for several series, refers to Jean (Judi Dench) as being 'a tender woman'. So there you go - I started this novel with images of an overweight gardener and eleven men in football kits. Shockingly, none of these played pivotal roles in Stef Penney's novel, which we discussed at Book Group tonight. It was my first week at this book group, which has only had three meetings in total, and I thoroughly enjoyed it - friendly and interesting people, nice pub. I wasn't even the Token Male, which I was in my previous book group! Three of us - a whole third of those present, in fact.

So, what did I think of The Tenderness of Wolves? Really enjoyed it. Penney's writing impressed me - nothing irritates me more than authors showing off about their research (I'm looking at you, Dan Brown... oh, and you, Mr. McEwan, for Saturday at least) - Penney had obviously done a lot of research, but never made this more important than plot or character. My main qualms with the novel were of genre - it never quite decided if it was detective, romance or literary fiction. Of course, it can be all of the above, but this left a few areas of dissatisfaction. The novel is essentially a murder, the consequent seeking for the culprit, with passages of discovery for pretty much everyone.
That sounds awful, but it really wasn't - Penney was great at making trekking through the snow interesting. Lucky, since a good three hundred pages are devoted to it - if she can make this fairly compulsive reading, then must be a good writer. Worth checking out.

I wonder how many modern books I've read this year... dovegreyreader had better be proud...

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  1. So glad to hear you liked this book. It is definitely one of the best new novels I've read this year. And I think I liked it all the better for the mixing of genres.

  2. I picked up that book in a shop and then put it down again - looks as though I was wrong.

  3. I thought THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES was wonderful and Stef Penney a truly good writer, particularly because she admits to never going to Canada (she is agoraphobic) ... so she read and then imagined.

    And AS TIME GOES BY is heavenly. I agree.

  4. oooh, dont bitch about mr mcewan or our friendship could be terminated!

  5. I loved this book, whch was my book of the month for April. I recommended it to my daughter but she thought there wouldn't be enough about wolves for her. Right, of course.

  6. We're quite addicted to Jean and Lionel Hardcastle et al. As Time Goes By plays here every Thursday night on PBS from Detroit.

    If we have to be away, we always leave on the program to record it.

    Mrs. Bale appeared last week in another role on Midsommer Murders ... couldn't quite make the shift from her weather reports

  7. Another household of "As Time Goes By" fans - and we'll watch re-runs upteen times and then some. One of those re-runs will beat out a lot of other things available.

  8. Simon knows full well that the mnention of As Time Goes By will bring about a comment from me. I adore this series, have since day one and I have every single episode on DVD and watch and rewatch frequently. they are a joy and a delight and if you are feeling irritable or twitchy they are a balm to the spirit.


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