Gods Behaving Badly – Controversial?

One of my two book groups has chosen to read Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips which has caused a bit of controversy. One lady said she didn’t like it at all, whereas one said she was keen to get home to finish it quickly, she was enjoying it so much. And that’s before the meeting to discuss it!

Gods Behaving Badly

I first encountered this book when I bought the hardback for Daughter in a fit of generosity a few years ago. She really enjoyed it. I had a quick look at the time but didn’t get round to reading it.

I think that this a curious little book. It is very funny in some ways, with some slight digs at modern society, religion and life in general. It is also a book about death and one version of what the afterlife is like, so not a book I would have chosen. It is a bit anti Christian of necessity, but gently and thoughtfully so, as Christian faith is not really possible in a world powered by the Greek gods.

The book depicts a modern world, full of mobile phones, the London Underground, dodgy tv programmes and the general  reality of everyday life. In  large house in London live a family that have seen much better times, the original, powerful Greek gods. Apollo, indeed, keeps the sun going, between his other interests. It is probably the detail of Apollo’s sexual obsessions that caused some of the controversy. Not much is left to the imagination at some parts of the book, but it is real love that forms the central drive of the action. Alice and Neil are shy of declaring their real feelings for each other until events force some literally earth shattering decisions. You do not need a classics degree to follow this novel, but some of the jokes and comments work better if you know, for example, why pomegranates are important to Persephone. In many ways this is a light book, quick and easy to read with interesting characters and an easily understood story. It is also a book which I think is trying to say something about modern life and faith. I particularly liked Eros’ attempts to become a Christian with his interest in the life of a local church. This is a problem when you are a minor deity and your close relatives cause all nature to work. It is a very readable book, easily manageable in a short time even if all around you are demanding attention.  I liked it, and looked for more by this author but cannot find any other novels listed. Maybe this is such a one off it would be difficult to follow. I think the nearest author would be  Douglas Adams, but his books do not try to place mythical characters in such a real life setting. It is a surreal book, with some sad characters and events, and sometimes it felt as if it had been written in a hurry. It is a little basic, and it is a shame if some of its content put some people off a good novel. Copies seem to be available, so why not see what you think.

100 and not out! (Oh, and several books…)

Well, I finally made it – one hundred posts! I also checked and discovered that I actually began this blog in early July 2010 so it is already over one year old. Impressive or what!?

You’ll be relieved to know that I’m not going to attempt to review 100 books in this post. Somewhere I have written about how many books out of one hundred greatest books I have actually read. I usually make over half in that sort of list… Last year I read 120+ books, but that did include being snowed in. I fully intend to take two bags of books on holiday, partly because I can never make up my mind about what I’m going to feel like reading. Long suffering husband says he will by me a Kindle (or similar ) when I’ve read all the books in the house – impossible ! While I’m on the subject of statistics, I have read 70 books so far this year, which isn’t bad compared with last year. That does include quite a few easy reads, as well as the big books like Lodge’s A Man of Parts – educational on all sorts of levels… I’m also a member of two book groups, which obviously determines some of my reading choices. At the moment they are Gods behaving badly by Marie Phillips

Gods Behaving Badly

which comes highly recommended by Daughter. She said that it was not a book she would have anticipated liking, but actually thought it was very good. I have started it, enjoyed it so far, again finding it very educational in all sorts of ways…

The other book club is reading Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

This comes highly recommended by friend CB who called it a ‘big’ book. I have started it but am not grabbed so far. I have got until September – or until someone demands to borrow a copy before the next meeting.

A book I have finished, though it is only the first of six, is the highly unusual and idiosyncratic Mapp and Lucia by E. F.  Benson. This is the sort of book, like the Provincial Lady series, that I have been meaning to read. I am glad I did, and thought that its portrayal of the rivalry between the two ladies of the title in a small town   was very funny. It has the same surreal humour as Wodehouse, with a very feminine twist. The two ladies battle to rule the social life of the small town of Tilling, by competitive bridge games, dinner parties and art exhibitions. These books are not for everyone; they deal with small incidents  writ large, and depend totally on characterisation. The wonderful Cogito Books of Hexham  sold me the collected volumes of all six books, and I felt all virtuous for supporting an excellent independent bookshop. Another trip planned for tomorrow! This is to accompany the MHH, or Southernreader, who is going to write the next post. So watch this space… my first guest reviewer!

So thank you to all who have read this blog faithfully, even when I’ve wandered, rambled and generally wallowed in books. And if you have only ever read the odd post – well, welcome! and see you again sometime…