Friday, 16 September 2011

The Well of Loneliness

Level: Explicit Lite
Genre: General Fiction > Classic
Obtained: Borrowed from a friend
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

About the Book:
Stephen Gordon was never what you would consider a normal girl. Even at a young age, she dressed up as a man and took up hobbies such as fencing. In this tale, we follow her on an emotional journey as Stephen takes on the hardships of being an outcast.

Rating: 9/10
I was originally recommended this novel by my room mate, and I have to say I am glad she did. I, honestly, would have not picked this up by blurb alone, allowing myself to miss out on a wonderful read. Accredited as being a lesbian novel, part of me would have to disagree for it read more like a transgender novel to me. However, there are still plenty of relations between women, and it sure didn't make the book any less moving. Hall pens a brilliant tale that leaves your heart aching. 

This novel also seems to be known as a romance. Yes, there are romantic affairs, but the main lover isn't even introduced until about three fifths of the way in. If anything, I would say that this book journeys through the soul, not just the heart. I believe it is also important to note that even if you are not gay or trans, this book still speaks to the soul, especially to anyone who has felt like an outsider. 

Not only does the author do a phenomenal job of conveying emotions (which personally had me on the verge of tears), but Hall also lays out beautiful prose. Plus, her characters, even the minor ones, easily have a life of their own so that I wasn't only feeling for Stephen but others as well.

Now, some of you may be wondering why I only rated this a 9/10. Although it is a very strong nine, Hall ended up writing a fair amount of French into her novel, causing me to either miss sentences (or at one point an entire conversation) or having to constantly translate the language. If it was just a few times, that would be different, but it happened more often than I cared for. However, even with this drawback, the emotion and message came through quite clearly. Another thing I disliked was Hall had a habit of changing focus from one character to another, which left often times confused and having to reread. I would also like to point out that since this was written in the 1920's, the writing may seem stilted and slow to some. However, I found this a brilliant and riveting reading experience that captured me both emotionally and mentally.  

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