Even though A Fraction Of The Whole had been shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize and it was by an Australian author (I like to support our home grown writers as much as possible) I was not really drawn to read this one. Then I saw the book praised very highly indeed by one of my favourite local journalists and I thought I would give it a go.
The book started out very positively for me - a striking opening paragraph to draw you in and then some funny, sharp writing to follow that introduction. The narrator of the book, Jasper Dean is in prison - for what exactly we don't know but it clear he is going to tell us eventually.
The premise of the book is that it tells the story of the Dean family. Jasper's father and uncle both become very well known identities and personalities in Australia - but both for very different reasons - and Jasper seems to be eternally caught in the middle of their fame and infamy trying to carve out an existence for himself.
The book could definitely be described as a "saga" and I don't mean that in a melodramatic, soap opera kind of way. The book covers so much in terms of time, geography and emotion. At times I thought the book was moving too fast and there was not going to be enough time to tell the whole story, but then, given that the book is 710 pages long, I admit there were times towards the end when I thought things were dragging a little.
Toltz is an amazing story teller - it felt as though Jasper was there in front of you narrating his life - there was definitely a connection and sense of empathy built even though some of the events and actions taken by the characters are (thankfully!) far outside the realm of what I would be expecting to experience in my own life!
When I finished the book my partner asked me if I had liked it and I honestly couldn't give an answer to the question because I was not sure! It was a fantastic read and an amazing story but could I say I 'liked' the story?? I'm still not sure about the answer to that one but I know that I am glad that I have read it and that I can pass it on to others. I will definitely be reading more work by this author.