I recently finished a rather weighty book —— Hillary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety. The book was more than 700 pages; by any account a long read. Using history as its background, the novel constructs the story behind the friendship of French Revolution leaders Robespierre, Desmoulins, and Danton. Since the end is well-known (anyone for the guillotine?) it’s remarkable the degree to which Mantel maintains the reader’s hope for a better ending.
I am a relentless reader at all times of the year, but especially in the summer when I have so much more time to have my nose in a book. I’m bemused at how proud I am for having read such a long book. I felt the same way when I read Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. It’s like I’m involved in some sort reading contest and those 749 pages are going to give me the edge to claim the Summer Reading Book Prize.
There is no contest and I didn’t write the many pages; I simply read them. Alas, old notions of achievement die hard. And a good book is a lovely thing.