Sunday 30 August 2009


This was the reading group's book for September. This was in truth not a particularly enjoyable read. In fact it left me feeling pretty confused as the point of the book or indeed what actually happened. Almost too clever by half. The novel could have been subtitled The diary of the eponymous hero, though Engleby is no hero. He is not even much of an anti-hero. It might better be described as the diary of a nobody. A very bright nobody who seems to suffer from a form of Asperger's syndrome. Though the description of the main character is a bit unfair to people with Asperger's. It is hard to find anything positive to say about the novel. It is well enough written and some of the scenes where Engleby gets viciously bullied at his private school are very realistic. However Engleby himself resorts to bullying and seems to have no redeeming qualities of his own. He leads a remarkably uninteresting life and the only interest is his “thing” for or with Jennifer, a fellow student he met at Cambridge. I say “thing” for it is never really clear whether it goes much beyond his fascination and fixation for her. Jennifer goes missing however and many years later her body is discovered and Engleby is charged and found guilty of her murder. However he is found to be suffering from a personality disorder and is sent to a special hospital and he seems to find his long years in this institution quite pleasant. In this latter part of the novel there is much scope for lots of pseudo psychology and pseudo Buddhist philosophy, which the Engleby character ridicules with great relish. All in all it is difficult to know what to make of the book, other than it was not worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. I am still writing my review but i believe that if you understood this book how i did you could accept how magnificent it really is. i am still finishing this :)