From Publisher: A seductive Highsmithian psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of fame
My Thoughts: Bottom line: I really wanted to like this book much more than I actually did. I’ll start by saying that I don’t have to like main characters in order to love a story. Nor do they have to be mentally sane. In fact, I loved You by Caroline Kepnes and I’m not sure there could be a bigger psychopath than Joe. So I knew going in that Maurice was going to be an unlikeable, manipulative character and I was fine with that. Really, I suspected that might even make the story more enjoyable.
Like many others, I loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies last year, it was actually my top book of 2017 so I definitely had high hopes for this one, although I did remain open to the idea that this was a completely different story. And, if anyone has the writing ability to shift gears and write a totally different type of story it’s John Boyne. That being said, the writing quality in A Ladder to the Sky was excellent. Boyne has such an ear for dialogue and every character was so well drawn. Most were flawed which I loved and I even thought Maurice was very multidimensional…I didn’t like him at all but he had many layers which I appreciated.
The novel is structured in an interesting way in that the sections alternate between Maurice and those he manipulates. Actually manipulates may be too nice of a word for what he does to some of them…I’m thinking of you Edith! This technique provided fresh perspectives and insights, moving the story along at a faster pace. Maurice’s main goal was literary fame and success at any cost which kept me reading to find out how many lives he’d ruin along the way and whether he’d ever get his comeuppance? You’ll have to read to find out but for me, getting that answer didn’t prove as surprising as I thought it would be. I expected much more and was left feeling underwhelmed. Despite this, I still love John Boyne’s writing and will be waiting on his next book!
Thanks to Hogarth Press for my copy