Friday, June 15, 2012
Book Thoughts - I, Iago by Nicole Galland
Synopsis from publisher:
From earliest childhood, the precocious boy called Iago had inconvenient tendencies toward honesty—a failing that made him an embarrassment to his family and an outcast in the corrupt culture of glittering Renaissance Venice. Embracing military life as an antidote to the frippery of Venetian society, Iago won the love of the beautiful Emilia and the regard of Venice's revered General Othello. After years of abuse and rejection, Iago was poised to achieve everything he had ever fought for and dreamed of . . .
But a cascade of unexpected deceptions propels him on a catastrophic quest for righteous vengeance, contorting his moral compass until he has betrayed his closest friends and family, and sealed his own fate as one of the most notorious villains of all time.
First Impression - 6/8/12
I LOVE stories that make me root for the villian - and Iago is one of the best villians in literature. In Galland's version of the story, he is also incredibly smart, and quite funny. I was hooked on the voice she created for him from the first pages of the novel, and am suprised to find him equally sympathetic. He is "...more talented than a few, more industrious than many, and more intelligent than most..." (p. 60), and I'm beginning to think Othello must have had it coming. *grin*
I'm also a compulsive reader of author's notes, and in hers Nicole Galland shares the story of how she came to write this novel, and what transpired after, and that story was equally charming. This is the first book in quite a while that has made me seriously consider calling in "sick" to work.
Second Thoughts - 6/10/12
Galland certainly doesn't strip her Iago of all his faults - the jealousy and bitterness that would make a man betray his friend are all there, just simmering under the surface, waiting for the the right sequence of events to push him over the edge. He is difficult and complex, and his emotions feel very real. I'm impressed with the story she has written for this man.
I have to say, though, that my favorite character in the novel is Iago's wife, Emilia. Every bit as smart as her husband, with humor and compassion to gentle her wit - she is the kind of person I'd love to know in real life. Almost more than what it does to Othello, I hate the betrayal that is to come because I know how much it will hurt Emilia.
Galland's writing is strong, and the plot moves at a rapid pace. She obviously must have spent hours in research, because I feel like I'm learning about Venetian politics and military history as well. I'm enjoying this novel so much - I am excited to turn each page to see what will happen next.
Last Word - 6/14/12
The real tragedy in Galland's novel is not the fated death of Desdemona, or the suicide of Othello - it is is the fall of Honest Iago into deceit and treachery. Of course, his betrayal of Othello was brutal, but the ways in which he was able to decieve himself were the truly painful moments. It is always tragic to watch a good man descend into evil, and Galland showed the slippery slope that can lead to the previously unimaginable.
Iago was such a rich and complex character, but Emilia was still my favorite. Her strength and bravery made her the one I was really rooting for. I thought the author did a great job of giving life to familiar characters while still honoring the original story. I think readers who are not terribly familiar with the source material will still find this to be a compelling story - of course, those who know what's coming will only feel the tragedy more deeply, as they come to understand the inner workings of Iago's mind.
I loved this novel - I did not want to put it down, I talked about it at work, and I will highly recommend it to lots and lots of people!
Source: review copy from the publisher - thank you!
MPAA rating: R for violence, adult situations
My rating: 9/10