#302 On Beauty

I’ve been seriously amiss with reading recently – as illustrated by the lack of posts. Initially I thought I just needed a mental break after my last lot of exams, but that was almost three months ago now and I’m still not really inspired to pick up a book. On Beauty I actually read at the beginning of January – and when I say “read” I mean raced through – so maybe it’s just that I’ve not really been surrounding myself with terribly inspiring books. I am 2/5 of the way through Infinite Jest, which I am really enjoying, but because of the size of it it is physically hard to read most of the time, which also isn’t helping !

I’ve been wanting to read On Beauty for ages – I read White Teeth years ago and really enjoyed it, so for the past couple of years I’ve been trying to spot it in libraries whenever I have a chance (literally all over the country) without any luck – so was extremely pleased to be bought it for Christmas. I love the way that Zadie Smith writes – she writes in a way that makes me want to read as quickly as possible so I can find out what’s going to happen next, but with such a level of detail that I have to force myself to slow down so I don’t miss anything. On Beauty centres around the Belsey family: the father, Howard, a (white) English college professor teaching in Boston (America), his African-American wife Kiki and their three children – Jerome (who starts out quite hapless but I did grow to like more at the end), annoyingly self righteous Zora and youngest son Levi. Howard’s professional (and personal) nemesis is rival professor Monty Kipps, with whom he has various entanglements throughout the novel.

I really enjoyed the way that the characters were written and that none of them were as straightforward as they seemed (it took me a while at the start to figure out who and where everyone was); and the way that the plot twists actually did surprise me. I would definitely recommend this – despite it having the most cringeworthy sex scene I have ever read (completely trumping Lady Chatterley’s Lover).


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