Sunday, February 28, 2010

Regarding the Book: Lost Horizon

I recently finished reading the book, Lost Horizon, by James Hilton. I wasn’t thrilled with it but will share some interesting information about the novel.
Lost Horizon was written in 1933. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery (monastery) high in the mountains of Tibet.
Two films were based on the book, one in 1937, directed by Frank Capra and one in 1973, directed by Charles Jarrott. A 1956 Broadway musical was also created from Lost Horizon.
The library copy that I read held well-worn and yellowed pages, had several stains within and was generally unpleasant to hold. I found an admirable trait of the book was its quite conservative length.
I don’t normally post negative reviews of books but for lack of meaningful blog post material, I’ve ventured onto this unfamiliar and awkward stage. I must take a moment to clarify my opinion. Lost Horizon isn't a bad book; it's just not all that great. Take note also that when I picked up this book, I had just closed The Book Thief !
I’ll leave you to decide if you want to poke your nose in James Hilton’s novel or sniff out something more delightful.
P.S. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've read this book or seen the movie.


Mel said...

Oh I've been wanting to read this! I've seen the film adaptations of some of his books like Random Harvest and Goodbye Mr Chips.

Shaddy said...

Mel: Please do read it then. You may find it to be something you really enjoy. To each reader, every book is a different experience. Perhaps at some other time, my opinion could change.

Lia said...

Oh Shaddy, what a shame the book didn't turn out to be as good as we thought it would be. Sounds like the show I was telling you about was better than the book. She did read some lovely extracts from the book, but I suppose they must have chosen the best its.
Much love

Shaddy said...

Lia: If you read it, please let me know what you think. You may like it a lot. If I were you, I wouldn't put great value on my opinion; it's coming from a fairly weak source. Sometimes I'd like to toss my brain in the garbage can!

Anonymous said...

I've not read this one.

After reading your physical description of the book, I have a strong desire to send you about three cans of Lysol and a carton of disinfecting wipes just so you can scrub down every surface it has laid upon. Yuck!


Shaddy said...

DS: The discoloration to the pages looked ancient. It took some determination for me to handle it but I figured any and all germs that may have been present would have died long ago. I appreciate your concern!! I was far from thrilled when I discovered it was the only copy available on the library bookshelf. My thoughts mirrored yours exactly: Yuck!

Gullible said...

Shaddy, any book after reading The Book Thief will pale in comparison for months. I've read several since finishing The Book Thief and apparently enough time had passed that I was able to appreciate them: The Help and The Crossroads Cafe are a couple. Fortunately by the time I read Greg Mortenson's follow-up to Three Cups of Tea, enough time had gone by since The Book Thief that I was really able to enjoy this remarkable non-fiction story.

Natasha said...

Your review isn't making me race to the library, I gotta say. After I've read something that's really special (like Haven Kimmel's books) it's hard for me to warm up to anything else for a while.

I'm kind of interested in reading The Book Thief though.

Anonymous said...

I heard The Book Thief is narrated by 'death'. Is that true? Sounds like a bit of a downer, but then, my taste runs a little (a lot) lighter.

Shaddy said...

Gully: I think from now on if I can't say something nice about a book, I won't say anything at all. I agree that after The Book Thief, anything pales in comparison for a spell.

Natasha: I haven't read anything by Haven Kimmel. I better get with it.

dayner: Yes. The Book Thief is narrated by death, although it isn't obvious throughout most of the book. I wouldn't advise you to read it if you prefer light subjects. I must assure you though that the unique voice and originality of the author is something special to experience. If you read a couple pages you'll get a taste of his talent without getting too depressed about the story itself.

Gullible said...

dayner and everyone else: as writers, you should read The Book Thief to see what an inspired author can do with words. I would say The Book Thief contains the finest examples of descriptive writing I have ever read. Bar none. You will find words in places you never expected them, applied in unique ways, and jumping out at you in their novelty.

As for the story, it's about a young girl during WWII who craves reading books, and about her family hiding a young Jewish man from the Nazis. Yes, Death narrates the story, but even that is an exceptional vehicle for the author. It took me a few pages to get into the unique format, but once I did, I could not put it down. Further, it will make you look at your writing and your use of words in a completely (for the better) different light, once you get over being heartbroken that you can't write like that.

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