I think I have written about endings before, and no, oddly enough, no spoilers here, though some hints. The most important things in a book are its first sentence and its ending. I am reminded of this as I finish, in quick succession, P.D. James’s Death of an Expert Witness and Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. Having recently read James’s An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, I find myself wanting the complex coherence of that ending. Perhaps I am missing the point in Death of an Expert Witness, but I found it unsatisfying; the same applies to Smith. Am I missing something? With I Capture the Castle, I end up feeling cheated – after all the allusions to Jane Austen (and really they are everywhere) I feel like it needed either a deliriously happy ending or a bittersweet one about love lost. Instead…instead the end is just out there.
Ironically, the book that has really got me thinking is one that I resisted reading for years and do not think is all that impressive as a literary achievement – Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, her book about eating local food for a year. It’s too much, you see, just a tad too much. Too much of her. Too much ethical goodness, by which I may mean goody-two-shoesness. And yet…one cannot help but take heed. It is the logical, coherent response to industrial food production; and so I recommend it, especially for anyone who does not know much about the food industry and takes an interest in the social and environmental impact of mass-production methods. It made me hungry, but did not make me want to buy a farm. Indirectly, it caused me to make eggs benedict with asparagus this weekend and spinach potato frittata yesterday, so at the very least, the Spouse is pleased.