Book Review: Dept. of Speculation

Last month saw the long awaited launch of Jenny Offill’s new novel, Dept. of Speculation.  And the initial reviews couldn’t have been more tempting.  I rushed out to buy a copy and started page turning.  But nothing was gripping me so I soon lost interest and abandoned it.  One of my readers, @millrocky71 did persevere though and has reviewed this curious novel for you:

Last two days of my holiday and I was looking for something to read after I had read the four books previously downloaded. A friend recommended Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. I glanced a few reviews “exceptional originality”, “sharply witty”, “Beautiful carefully crafted”.

It sounded just what I was after so I clicked….

2014-04-26 17.29.29-3I started reading it was very jumpy, hard to follow, hard to understand the characters. They almost just seemed to appear from no-where with little or no background reference. With so few characters in the book it should have been straightforward enough to follow but I began to doubt my intelligence as I found it confusing and jumbled and I had to re read parts to try and understand what was happening.

Luckily it was short and I had a five hour tedious plane ride to fill. I kept hoping the book would improve, that at some point I would get it and the book would live up to the reviews however even at the crux of the story I wasn’t sure what had actually taken place until a few pages later.  It wasn’t so much the writing style that bothered me it was more the lack of any emotion and connection I felt with the main character “the wife and mother” and as someone who meets that definition surely I should have been able to empathise a little. I couldn’t.

Just as I felt the book might be starting to make some sense it just ended. I couldn’t actually believe it was the end, I thought I needed to read passed the acknowledgements and like a film there would be the bit at the end that most people miss because they leave the cinema too early. There wasn’t!

I’ve re read the reviews again since I have finished the book… I think it must be me… I’m just not intellectual enough I guess.

Have you read this book and felt the same? Let us know! 


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