As we get closer and closer to Christmas, it’s getting harder and harder for me to pick BotW’s that don’t infringe on my Christmas reading suggestion posts. Hence why this week’s choice is Rumer Godden’s China Court – a book which I still can’t make up my mind what I think about it, several days after I finished reading it.
China Court is the story of the homecoming of Tracy, who arrives back at her grandmother’s house the day after her grandma has died. Brought up in America, Tracy spent the favourite part of her childhood living at China Court and is worried about what her grandmother’s death may mean for the old house. But as well as being about Tracy’s return, the book is also the story of family who have lived in the house over the years and their trials and tribulations.
Regular readers will know that I love a good family saga, and that I love time slip novels, and this is a bit of both – a huge cast of characters and two timelines, one present, one past – although the past one moves through time rather than being the story of just one person in the past. And although it took me a while to get into it (as evidenced by the length of time it spent in the Week in Books posts), once I had got into it, I didn’t want to put it down* because I wanted to know what happened.
At the start, there is a family tree, but also a note from the author asking you to only look at it if you really have to because her aim is for the family and their relationships to unroll in their own time and for you to work it out for yourself. I mostly managed that, but I did have to have a few looks at the family tree when I was picking the book back up again after a few days break.
I haven’t read a lot of Rumer Godden’s books – and most of what I have read have been her children’s books. And as I said at the start, I still can’t work out what I thought. The ending isn’t as satisfying as I wanted it to be – even though all the ingredients seem to be there for it to work. I didn’t like a lot of the characters – or what they were doing – but I really liked Tracy and her story line. Even writing this hasn’t really helped me work out what I though of this and whether I liked it or not. I still don’t know if it’s going to go on to the bookshelf, or get lent to mum or sent straight to the charity shop. Puzzling.
*but I did, because I had to go to work. And I didn’t like it *quite* enough to break my rules about not taking books that I have less than 100 pages left to read to work with me.**
** Because it’s a waste of bag space if it’s not going to last me all the way down and most of the way back.