Monday, 17 February 2014

"Jacob's Folly" by Rebecca Miller - Review

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Beforehand: I read this book about a while ago so my memory is starting to get a little blurry about it. I'll do my best but I wouldn't rely 100% on this.

Title: Jacob's Folly
Author: Rebecca Miller
First Published: 2013
Publisher: Canongate Books
Pages: 384
Genere: Historical/General Fiction

After the Jewish peddler Jacob Cerf dies in 18th-Century Paris he is mysteriously reincarnated in 21st-Century Long Island - as a fly. Even more mysterious: He can suddenly read thoughts. He starts following Masha, a young orthodox jewish woman he fell in love with after seeing her in a hospital and father as well as volunteer fireman Leslie Senzatimore.

As Jacob finds out more about their life he also finds that he can't only read their thoughts but also influence them - and so he forms a plan to bring down Leslie and help Masha accomplish her biggest dream.

The book alternates the story of Jacob in 17whatsoever and Jacob's life as a fly in 20whatsoever, I bought it about a month after release and pretty much without paying attention to reviews, ratings or even the content, I just fell in love with the cover. As you can see it's really really beautiful, good job with that Francoise Boucher and Rafaela Romaya. As if that weren't enough, as far as first sentences go this book has two of the best I've ever read:
"I, the being in question, having spent nearly three hundred year lost as a pomegranate pip in a lake of aspic, amnesiac, bodiless, and comatose, a nugget of spirit but nothing else, found myself quickening , gaining form, weight, and, finally, consciousness. I did not remember dying, so my first thoughts were confused, and a little desperate."
Actually the whole first page is practically poetry so I was immediately sold on this, the rest of the book is funny, well researched and interesting, especially reading the parts about how jewish orthodox familes in the 18th century and now, big families, rituals, sabbath, etc. because that's something I wouldn't usually get to know.
I liked Masha very much, maybe because she wants to follow her dreams even though it isn't conventional or even very supported for her.

The whole idea of the book is obviously weird, but I think Miller pulled it off pretty well, although she offered no explaination whatsoever as to why Jacob turned into a fly and I didn't quite understand why Jacob wanted to harm Leslie.

One thing I found really weird though was how much this book is about sex. Jacob's sexlife as a teenager, Jacob's sexlife an adult, Jacob's sexlife as a fly, Jacob talking about his huge member... I'm not complaining but it's sort of unexpected and what I'm saying is that if you're easily triggered this is maybe not for you.

I did like it, it was funny at times, interesting and the characters were mostly nice and interestingly built. It was really weird sometimes, but I would recommend it if you aren't sensible about sex in books.
Rating: 3.5/5 

Further Reading:
Rebecca Miller about "Jacob's Folly" over at bookslut 
Review over at dreamworkandplay 

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