6000 Pages 2011, Wild Abandon – Joe Dunthorne (pages 9216-9519)


With less than two weeks of 2011 left I’m uncomfortably aware that I’m behind on reviews. Which isn’t a problem in some ways (more time to read) but it will delay when I can set out the conditions for the 2012 challenge etc. Anyhow…

I chose Wild Abandon to read by a slightly circuitous route. I’d enjoyed the film Submarine which was from Joe Dunthorne’s earlier novel. Rather than read it – though I was tempted – I thought it might be more fun to read something where I didn’t know the story.

Wild Abandon is the story of a commune and the family that forms the core of it. Both the commune and the family seem to be falling apart. Don and Freya’s marriage is showing signs of strain whilst their daughter Kate just wants to be normal and pass her exams. Albert, the son is pretty well adjusted – apart from his conviction that the world is going to end.

Wild Abandon was an easy and enjoyable read. It’s funny without being laugh-out-loud hilarious – though there were moments when a joke landed particularly well. It’s more the subtle character humour of well-observed small interactions between characters. Particularly the way Don reacts to those around him. He’s somehow turned from an idealistic purposeful leader to a bit of a pompous prat. His relationship with the older commune member Patrick who he patronises mercilessly was very much in this vein.

If I have a criticism it’s that the plot was a little more complicated than it needed to be. There was perhaps one too many coming or going in the comings and goings of people who’d decided to leave, then stay or vice-versa with the commune.

It does have a very effective and noticeably cinematic final scene which I enjoyed.

7/10 – more a gentle freeing than a wild abandonment.

(Now I’m only one book behind on reviews but hopefully by the time I go to bed tonight I’ll be back up to two!)

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About shuggie

My name is Shuggie, Paul or LatePaul depending on where you know me from. I work in computers (databases) and occasionally write about softw
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