Tuesday 30 September 2014

A Fraction of the Whole

Finished September 29
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

This debut novel got tons of great reviews and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. I had bought it some years ago, and finally grabbed it to meet a challenge as well as provide a nice thick book for a plane trip. The novel is set mostly in New South Wales, Australia.
As the book begins, Jasper Dean is in an unspecified jail, that seems to have a bad inmate control issue. We know that his father is dead, but are not sure of the specifics. Jasper then goes back to the beginning of his life to let us know how he got here, but really he has to go back even further, to the beginning of his father's life, Martin Dean. The book is told in both Jasper's and his father's voice, and draws from information that Jasper either heard from his father, heard from someone else who knew the situation, or from his own experience or research through written records.
As we learn of the difficult health issues of Martin's childhood, the arrival of his brother Terry, and Terry's terrible slide into a life of crime and notoriety, I found myself unable to connect with the characters. I was able to connect better with Jasper once he got into the story of his own life, and how he was influenced by both his father and the reputation of his uncle.
Well a good narrative, I wasn't really captured by this novel and thus it took me more than the long plane ride to get through it, and I almost gave up a couple of times. Perhaps if I had read it more slowly over  a longer period of time, it would have worked for me better.


  1. I'm sorry you didn;t enjoy this one.
    I took it on a relaxing beachside holiday with me...and I loved it!
    So much so, that I'd love to reread it one day...when I have the time....
    Just reading your review brings back the good feelings I had about this book at the time (as well as the wonderful holiday:-)

  2. Thanks Brona. I've found before that for some books I have to be in a certain mindset. I've read or tried to read a book and not enjoyed it, and then tried again a few years later and loved the book. I passed this one on to my dad for now, we'll see how he enjoys it.