February 17, 2010

The Legacy - Kirsten Tranter

Don't you hate it when you read a fantastic book and it is the author's only or first novel?? All you want to do is go straight out and pick up another book by the same author to keep the magic going but you just can't!! It drives my reading mind mad! This is the exact feeling I had after finishing The Legacy.

I picked this book up a couple of weeks ago based on the wonderful cover which caught my attention and a combination of the description of the book and the praise on the book from another author I have enjoyed reading, Debra Adelaide. I was then pleased to see some really positive reviews about the book in our local media. But even with all of this I was not prepared for how much I would love this book and the writing displayed by Tranter.

The description of the book focuses on the character of Ingrid, a beautiful young Australian woman who moves to New York after marrying her art collector/businessman American husband, Gil Grey. From this description I was expecting Ingrid to be the real focus of the book - and she is in many ways - but the main character focus for me was Ingrid's friend, and the narrator of the book, Julia. Julia and Ingrid are introduced through Ingrid's cousin and Julia's friend, Ralph and the three become close friends during their university studies in Sydney.

The main action in the book takes place after September 11, 2001 when Ingrid is believed killed in the World Trade Tower attacks and Julia travels to New York a year after this event to discover more about the life Ingrid was leading once she had moved from Australia to marry and become a step mother to a child prodigy artist.

I found the writing and character development in this book brilliant. Tranter seems to move the plot and the characters without you really being aware of it as a reader - you just suddenly realise what has happened and the transition has been so smooth you were oblivious in a way. To me this is a sign of a great writer - I become so immersed in the world of the story I don't notice what the writer is trying to do - the action is seamless. The worlds of Sydney, New York and Paris were also beautifully written and described - the cities were clearly characters themselves and contributed so much to the way the human characters developed.

The characters felt solid and believable - they were rounded and full of flaws which always makes for a great story. The story itself could be read on so many different levels I think - for me it was a mystery, a love story, a narrative on the role that art, friendship and family play in our lives and a story of grief and loss but also hope.

I absolutely loved the experience of reading this book - I just hope Tranter is already writing her second!


Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard of this one before, but it sounds very compelling and I'll be keeping a lookout for a copy. I find the use of 9/11 in recent fiction rather fascinating, seeing how different authors use the events as a plot device and how they deal with the issues it brought up in relation to the story.

Amanda said...

Wow. That's quite a recommendation! What an interesting book. Thanks!

Hannah Stoneham said...

What a fantastic endorsement! Thanks for sharing - and yes I do know that feeling - I had it for several years after the publication of The Secret History by Donna Tartt...

Andi said...

This one sounds like a winner! The premise is great, and I love when a writer can carry me along with seemingly no effort. In a way this sounds like something Siri Hustvedt would write. Can't wait to give it a try.

Samantha said...

I also recently picked this one up after reading an interview with Tranter in the SMH - and I also loved the cover - and Borders had it at 35% off as well.

Glad to read that you loved it and now I have bumped it up my reading queue! I also read that she has at least a two book deal so her second book will definitely be published at least. When - we will just have to wait patiently... ;-)

Karen said...

Hi thecaptivereader - compelling is definitely a word I would use to describe this one!

Hi Amanda - I know! I realised I was fairly full on in my praise for this book - I really enjoyed the experience!

Hi Hannah - It's so frustrating isn't it?? I know and appreciate that writers need to take their time with their writing process - but sometimes I just really want the next book!

Hi Andi - That is a good author comparison for this one!

Hi Samantha - Thanks for that great news about the second book!! I just have to wait for it now... I did see where she will be at the SWF.

Kim said...

Oooo... I've got to read this book now.
Thanks for the recommendation, Karen.

Karen said...

Hi Kim - I really hope you enjoy this one!

Paperback Reader said...

Karen, this book appealed to me after your last mention of it and I was sad to discover that it doesn't appear to have been published (or due to be published) here yet :(. Of course now I am even more annoyed! Hopefully soon.

Karen said...

Hi Claire - that is a real shame! I thought only Australian readers had that problem!!

Rebecca Chapman said...

Wow, this review is great, the bok sounds amazing. I love Debra Adelaide too, I reviewed her book The Household's Guide to Dying on my blog not long ago. If she recommends it I am sure that it is brilliant.

I am going to add this to my wish list with a link back to your review!

I didn't see a review in the SMH but I will look it up.

I will definitely keep my eye out for it.

Tara said...

I just saw this on Samantha's blog - so excited to see a review of it! Looks like it is coming to the US this summer. Yeah!

Karen said...

Hi Becky - I hope you get a hold of a copy soon - looking forward to hearing what you think.

Hi Tara - So glad to hear that this one is coming to the US!

Anonymous said...

I just found this review via Claire (The captive Reader) and it sounds great! I actually would normally avoid 9/11 related novels but there seems to be more to this than that. I'll add it to my list.

Liz said...

I recently read this and honestly I think we read different books! I had decided by page 7 what had happened to Ingrid - I don't want to sound like a smart arse but it was obvious to me. As for the rest, the characterisation was awful, I simply didn't believe in any of the people. They were like shadows floating in and out, and Ingrid herself was an utter cipher. Aunt Jenny was the only character who seemed remotely real. Even Julia, the narrator, wasn't particularly interesting to me.

I was really interested in the premise of the book as my company had its HQ in the South Tower and I knew people who both died and survived that day. However, this is very disappointing - it could have been great but it was just flat. I felt like giving up half way through but persevered as I felt it must get better. It did, but only slightly. Two stars at the most.

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