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Book Review: "Lord Jim at Home" by Dinah Brooke

5/5 - shocking, disturbing and darkly funny...

By Annie KapurPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 4 min read
From: Daunt Books Publishing

The only real reason I went for this book is because I heard there was an introduction by Ottessa Moshfegh. Ottessa Moshfegh at the moment, is probably one of my favourite living writers and so, everything recommended by her must thereforebe taken into consideration for my TBR. But then again, I am not going to lie when I say it has been sitting on my TBR for a long while now. I only got around to reading it recently when I heard that it was available on Kindle. For the life of me, I do not know why I didn't check before.

I have not heard much on what this book is about and when I started reading it, I had no idea what to expect in terms of language or genre. I had never heard of the writer or any of their other works and so, I guess this counts towards one of my 'random books of the week by an author I have never heard of'. I try to read something by someone I have never heard of at least once every week or so - forcing myself to encounter new genres and styles of writing so that I do not become trapped in reading horror novels and British Library Crime Classics. If you know me, I think you will be aware of the fact that happens very often.

Initially called the 'Prince', Giles is a privileged child who grows up around acts of horrific violence. For example, as a child, his father makes him eat his entire plate of food - even if its already been thrown into the garbage. The scene involves his father fishing it out of the garbage can and making his child eat it. But, obedient as he is - this all means that the child does as he is told. A subject of extremely harsh criticisms about how skinny and pale he is, Giles is also the victim of horrible abuse from the nurse who is supposed to look after him and practically every other person in his life. When asked by a doctor whether he is experiencing any abuse, the Prince almost says yes before seeing the look on the faces of the other people in the room.

Once he goes to school it doesn't get much better. In one scene, Giles doesn't know the answer to a question but puts his hand up anyways because that is what all the other boys were doing. When asked to explain himself, he states that he was just doing what he thought he was supposed to do. Being subjected to abuse at school both physically and emotionally does not build character for Giles but often leaves him confused.

From: Amazon

He enters the army where doing as you're told is pretty much the only thing you need to do - or so he thinks. His desensitisation to horrific acts of violence and yet the delivery in description are juxtaposed perfectly. He then changes his entire life forever by committing to something terrible when he comes home.

Dinah Brooke's creates a bleak dark comedy or errors and a horrific world of abuse as she shocks the readers of both the 1970s and today with her overtly descriptive, sometimes disgustingly sexual and sickeningly indulgent language. Her characters are curated with such care that every single character around the Prince has something completely wrong with them. For example: the neurotic mother, the obsessive and ignorant father, the hateful and self-serving nurse and even the judge with all of his vices. Each of these characters inflicts some sort of pain on Giles and then, afterwards when they least expect it - everyone gets pretty much exactly what they deserve. It is a brilliant comedy of errors in a way that is both quite funny and also pretty terrifying.

One of the key reasons I loved this book though is because of the army scenes where the other men start to call Giles 'the Lord' as a mocking nickname. Not only does it serbe to tell us that Giles pretty much gets mocked wherever he goes, but then again it links that character to Conrad's "Lord Jim". For those of us who are Joseph Conrad novel fans we can only imagine what that means.

All in all, this was a brilliant book and I am very happy that I discovered it. It has clearly been one of my favourite books of the year.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

188K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer.

Film and Writing (M.A)

📍Birmingham, UK

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