Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Book 13 of 2014: Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin

The penultimate book that I read for my Children’s Literature course was Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin. It was a book I knew absolutely nothing about and it still managed to completely go against all of my expectations for it.

It’s a book which follows several boys from various different backgrounds and upbringings, set in two different time periods (the first half covers the boys in 1751, the second sees them as adults as well as a new generation in 1959). The boys lives all intertwine with each other and involves the scandal of illegitimate children, the power of music, and differences between class and race.

I did sort of enjoy this book though it was a lot different from what I was expecting. I’m not sure why but I was expecting it to be set in India. I think part of it was the name, ‘Coram’ sounded like it was going to involve distant, exotic climes, rather than being the name of the man who set up homes and schools for orphaned children. Plus the cover of my copy of the book had ships all over it so I expected it to involve voyages across the ocean.

I didn’t quite like all of the different characters’ points of view. Some of them felt kind of unnecessary, like the Prologue. I also felt like the book took quite a lot of liberties with the time and social attitudes. The author was well aware of this and outright stated that she had fudged the times when Mozart was in the country and when the piece of music was performed. On the one hand that didn’t bother me too much because it’s not something I’m knowledgeable about so it didn’t pull me out of the story. But Alexander, Melissa and their illegitimate child did kind of bother me a little.

It was very interesting to learn about the Coram House, how it all worked and what happened to it. I do like learning about historical things like that so it did prompt me to look into that in a little more detail. I did make a very conscious decision not to write about this book for any of my assignments, however. I think it really bothered me that the author was so free and easy with the facts in what was otherwise purporting to be a historical story.

On a totally random note. I did love the actual physical book itself. I’m one of those people who cares about what my books look and feel like. I’ve noticed a recent tendency for books to have this slightly textured effect on their cover and it upsets me because I don’t like the feel of it on my hands. I’ve tolerated it for a Terry Pratchett book but I did put down a pretty copy of The Hobbit that I was considering because I just couldn’t stand holding it. I know, I’m weird.

Coram Boy was slightly smaller than a regular paperback, almost a square shape. The cover and pages were kind of soft and floppy so it felt really nice. Although I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I might have hoped I would, the book itself felt nice and sort of different.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)