Sunday, 17 April 2011

I Owe An Apology...

Well, I possibly owe many apologies! But the apology today goes to Gwyneth Jones.

You see, around this time last year I was reading the Arthur C Clarke shortlist and one of the novels that featured was Spirit by Gwyneth Jones. I was rather harsh in my review. I don't want to retract every word of it - I still recall the prose as being rather challenging and the characters hard to love - but I do want to revisit the review.

The reason for this is thanks to a film day at Casa de Jager! Liz and Mark are the most wonderful hosts, and welcomed Alex and myself into their house with a wonderful repast:

I especially appreciated the Pimms and chocolate cake!

We talked books, watched Liz demonstrate the correct way to eat cake (see below) and watched The Count of Monte Cristo.

Now, last year I knew that Spirit was based on The Count of Monte Cristo, but up until now I have not read the book or watched the film.

Apart from the fact that the film was truly brilliant - featuring Guy Pearce, James Caviezel and Richard Harris - it lifted my appreciation of Spirit to the point where I am desperate to revisit the novel. I now believe that Gwyneth Jones did a cracking job bringing the 'spirit' (no pun intended) of The Count of Monte Cristo to her novel - from the distinctly unfair imprisonment, to the bewilderment and horror of her main protagonist, to the biting satisfaction of the revenge themes.

It is rare that I return to a review and decide to tell my audience differently from the original review - but here I am. If you have read or watched The Count of Monte Cristo, then Spirit will offer you a unique perspective on this story and it is well worth the read. This is one situation where my lack of prior knowledge meant my review was not all it could be. And, for that, I offer Gwyneth Jones an apology!


  1. Argh! What a fantastic post. Now I need to read Spirit too as I didn't do so last year. And thanks for putting in that awful picture! LOL. I look like I was doing a Cthulu impression.

  2. That picture is a classic! Love it.

  3. Hee! I can't remember what Liz was actually saying now when she did that cake pose. It made sense at the time, anyway. The cake and Pimms were awesome - the de Jager's reputation as master hosts has now reached legendary proportions!

    Having rewatched the film I now feel I'd quite like to pick up Spirit as well. The film is brilliant - I especially adore James Frain - he is the most fantastic actor. I cried proper tears when he was the victim of a (botched) beheading in The Tudors.

  4. So, for we barbarians in the States, what kind of Pimm's is it that you like? Is there a standard recipe?

    The Count of Monte Cristo is a great book. Hearing that Spirit is based on it, I've put it on my to-read list.