Read The Annunciation by Ellen Gilchrist Free Online
Book Title: The Annunciation|
ISBN 13: 9780807127360
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 18.36 MB
City - Country: No data
The author of the book: Ellen Gilchrist
Edition: Louisiana State University Press
Date of issue: October 1st 2001
Loaded: 2753 times
Reader ratings: 3.1
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Ellen Gilchrist's first novel, The Annunciation, published in '84, brings together both what I love and what I loathe about her work. The beginning of this book was 4-star material, the ending was a 1, so I'll bump the 2.5 average up to a 3.
I first ran across Gilchrist's work in high school, maybe at age 15. I was at the neighborhood used bookstore and came across her novel, Net of Jewels, and decided to buy it because Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" was on the cover. Ask nearly any high school-aged artsy girl and she'll tell you that Klimt is her faaaavorite. I bought it, assuming that any book graced with a cover featuring his work must be just my kind of thing.
Net of Jewels sparked my love affair with Gilchrist's work. I loved her dialogue, the way her characters speak and curse and ramble on in short, simple sentences. I loved the descriptions of growing up in affluence in the DEEP SOUTH. I loved how she could take a boring scene, such as sunning oneself by the pool at the club, and make it something I wanted to do. I loved living alongside these characters in my head--I was with them, wearing white linen and saddle oxfords, or playing tennis at the club, drunk on ice picks. I loved those things and still do.
I think anyone who doesn't mind reading about rich, bratty, eccentric, ego-driven, self-obsessed Southern people who drink and screw constantly will like Gilchrist's work. Her characters rarely do anything, achieve much, or change in any fundamental or significant way. Critics say Gilchrist's work is character-driven, and I can agree, but the work is character-driven while the characters are flat. It takes a special person, like Gilchrist, to succeed at a character-driven novel while rarely crafting a likeable character. Or hell, even a character that comes out of the book having undergone some sort of development.
The Annunication is an odd one. It's Gilchrist's first novel and that's pretty obvious. The first third to half of the book is entertaining and the voice is classic Gilchrist, and I really thought I was going to love it despite the disjointed timeline. It goes between real time and historical descriptions of what happened "before," but in a way that's difficult to follow and takes getting used to. It started out well, but fizzled. The story is written in third person, but it's almost as if it's told through Amanda's (main character) perspective even though she's never first person narrator. That could be because everything is written in the same way--all characters talk and behave the same--and after a while everything begins to sound like Amanda. There's very little distinction between one character's part in the dialogue and the next. Confusing and irritating. Around the time that Part III begins, I gave up on the book being re-readable.
The synopsis on the back cover is somewhat misleading--it infers that the plot leans mainly on Amanda's translation work and on parallels between Amanda's life and that of the poetess she's translating. Not so. If you want an "about" of this book, here goes--Amanda McCamey spends her life getting what she wants, doing what she wants, saying what she wants, and somehow coming out of it all with friends and the belief that she's even more entitled to being obsessed with herself. She doesn't accomplish anything, she doesn't sacrifice anything, she doesn't do anything likeable or admirable or great.
I believe part of the problem with The Annunciation is that Gilchrist commits the writer's crime of telling it all and not showing enough. The reader learns about important events only by reading a random sentence factoid--for instance, when we learn that Amanda has somehow become a reputable translator and respected published author. That happened out of nowhere!
If you're an Ellen Gilchrist fan and don't mind to spend a couple nights on a book that probably won't blow you away, I recommend The Annuncation. It was fun and interesting to me to read her first novel and find how much her work has improved and developed since. And if you are a fan, don't worry--her voice is ALL over this novel.
If you're not familiar with Ellen Gilchrist and want to be, I recommend her short stories or the novel, Net of Jewels, over The Annunciation. The Annunciation is a messy first draft compared to the rest of her work.
Overall, not her best work and nothing I'd read again.
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Read information about the authorEllen Gilchrist (born February 20, 1935) is an American novelist, short story writer, and poet. She won a National Book Award for her 1984 collection of short stories, Victory Over Japan.
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