Bricks by Leon Jenner

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Bricks by Leon Jenner

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A bricklayer recalls his past life as a Druid priest. We dip into history and philosophy, the golden age of the Victorians and even ... Adolph Hitler.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 320 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Coronet
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1444706284

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Let me start on a positive: this slim volume is exquisitely presented and has a lovely 'traditional' feel about it. Very covetable for book lovers. The front cover is also a bit of a paradox - what with the workmanlike one-word title Bricks and the almost mystical/biblical-esque graphics. Will this all help to draw the reader in, well, I'm not too sure.

Told in the first person we're in no doubt, right at the very first page, with the words I have risen to become a highly revered being. My knowledge and practice of natural philosophy, art and mathematics incarnate me as Newton and Michelangelo combined. Wow, then this book had better be good, I'm thinking. In the next line after that show-stopping one we have I am a bricklayer. I'm intrigued and I want to find out more.

The bricklayer continues to speak to us eg: I have ... I love ... and similar but then out of nowhere we have the rather clunky wording This bricklayer is ... Why not continue in the first person?

There's the odd black and white illustration which, while a nice touch, put me in mind of a children's book. I don't think that's the image Jenner wanted to create. I was expecting to read more about the bricklayer (as the title reasonably suggests) but we swoop on to the whole Druid scene. It's clear that Jenner is keen to write about all things connected with the Druids. That's fine but then I started to feel as if I'd gatecrashed a history lecture (and not a very good one at that) with the odd philosophical element thrown in for good measure. Didn't quite work for me as a piece of fiction but nor did the pages of text gel together particularly well. It felt rather amateurish.

The tone and style Jenner has adopted is dry and lecture-ish (in a third rate fashion). The slender connection is that the bricklayer was a Druid priest in a former life. More dry facts follow. Therefore, I don't really have much in the way of positives to say about the narrative - it just went on and on, taking in the Romans and Adolph Hitler along the way. I lost interest very early on. I just felt that most of the book was a pointless ramble and that if we were at all interested, well, we could Google for whatever fact we wanted. I was disappointed. The book sadly did not live up to its beautiful cover expectations. Jenner also decides to introduce one or two poems - of dubious quality, in my opinion. I wasn't impressed.

There is an Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 which take up far too many pages in relation to the work of fiction itself. My lasting impression was that a lot of the text was dull and flat on the page eg: People were not as they look now. Well, some were, our physical ancestors. But there were other people, somewhat different. So, a rambling, unconvincing, lack-lustre read for me personally.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Daughters of Fire by Barbara Erskine.

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