Testimonies by Patrick O'Brian
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Almost 200 pages into a 224 paged book and now something finally happens?! Jeez Louise! The only reason I muscled through all that nothing is because I love Patrick O'Brian's work. I was sure there would be a payoff, and there was, but it came in the third to last chapter with no preamble, no teasing along, not even the tiniest of tidbits to make a reader's hope linger.
Testimonies is O'Brian's first adult novel. He had written a few as a boy and made a name for himself. That name must have been somewhat deflated by these meandering pages of character sketches and setting description.
Since the book is set in the hilly wilds of Wales and because O'Brian is an expert scene describer, these pages often make for gorgeous reading. His prose flows like a breeze over grassy downs, occasionally whipping through a craggy pass atop some barren rise. Truly, you will say, this is a master wordsmith.
However, at this point in his writing career O'Brian seemingly hadn't discovered plot yet . The book is not entirely directionless, but the point of it all is elusive at best. I can't recommend this, except to O'Brian fans looking to read his complete works, but neither can I claim this to be an outright failure. The characters are so very real - he did after all create them from his time spent in Wales - that one does grow an attachment to them. All the same, one wishes they'd do something.
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