Customer Reviews


17 Reviews
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (6)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5.0 out of 5 stars Art Imitates Life
Yann Martel has taken the sophmore jinx tiger by the tale (sic) and followed up his popular, award winning novel Life of Pi with a multi-layered masterpiece. The book is unconventional in its structure (starting with the dual sided cover, reflecting the duality of fact and fiction), and tells a very simple story, albeit one with multiple threads (for movie buffs, a bit...
Published on April 3 2011 by Ian Robertson

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Delicious word play but disappointing emotional journey
I'm writing this review mostly from the emotional perspective since I don't think myself an expert on literature. I listened to the audio book version, the narration was top notch. There are some wonderful phrases and delicious word play that makes my brain light up (eg: the description of a pear).

As the novel carries on, the subject matter gets insufferably...
Published on March 25 2012 by Chingers


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Delicious word play but disappointing emotional journey, March 25 2012
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I'm writing this review mostly from the emotional perspective since I don't think myself an expert on literature. I listened to the audio book version, the narration was top notch. There are some wonderful phrases and delicious word play that makes my brain light up (eg: the description of a pear).

As the novel carries on, the subject matter gets insufferably heavy. Granted,the Holocaust is not a light subject, but I thought Martel's approach of story telling would soften the naked cruelty and explore human nature behind the act. Not so. I adored the manner with which Martel described a pear, but I definitely didn't appreciate the same approach when describing torture! I had to skip that chapter entirely, it was too much to take.

If Martel's aim was to traumatize his readers with words, congratulations to him, that's what my reaction was.

For successful examples of story telling approach to the Holocaust, read Anne Michael's Fugitive Pieces or watch Pan's Labyrinth.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Art Imitates Life, April 3 2011
By 
Ian Robertson (West Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
Yann Martel has taken the sophmore jinx tiger by the tale (sic) and followed up his popular, award winning novel Life of Pi with a multi-layered masterpiece. The book is unconventional in its structure (starting with the dual sided cover, reflecting the duality of fact and fiction), and tells a very simple story, albeit one with multiple threads (for movie buffs, a bit like Tarantino's movie Pulp Fiction, but without the violence).

Parallels with the author's own life are evident from the start, with the protagonist - an author - trying to follow up his immensely popular earlier novel with an unconventionally structured (and dual covered) book about the Holocaust. The parallels then start layering, like Russian nesting dolls. The author (the one in the book) receives a cryptic message asking for help from another author - a playwright, actually - with the same first name, Henry, and the dayjob of taxidermist.

The taxidermist requests Henry's help finishing his play, which is about two stuffed animals, a donkey (Beatrice) and a howler monkey (Virgil). Beatrice and Virgil's dialogue in the play is very plain, about mundane topics such as the nature of a pear. Their dialogue, much like in Beckett's Waiting for Godot, is about much more than the apparent topic, referencing past literature and reflecting the authors' relationship with each other. As the book unfolds, the various parallels become more evident, and the book finishes by tying the various threads together in a natural, tight conclusion. The writing is, of course, much richer than this simple plot summary can convey, and readers will appreciate Yartel's clever execution. I found myself smiling numerous times throughout the story.

The self-referencial nature of the book has many antecedents, from Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman to Hunter S. Thompson's many works, and although some may find the structure a bit precious, Martel pulls it off very well. A thoroughly enjoyable, quick read, that will leave you wanting to discuss it over pi (sic).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding, April 19 2010
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I came into book with lofty expectations; everything Yann Martel has written thus far has moved me immensely, and I was sure this book would be no different. I was right.
I'm not going to say much in this review except what is important - that is, after all, Martel's philosophy.
The novel starts out as an account of a writer - that bears remarkable resemblance to Yann Martel, of course - who has written a novel, and failed. The writer, named Henry, moves with his wife to an unnamed city, where he takes up the clarinet, joins a theater group, and makes friends with an old, scary-looking taxidermist. This is where the story gets interesting.
Beatrice and Virgil does not have much action; like the play discussed at the heart of the novel, it is about conversation, and daily life. But the book is not without focus... and in this case, that focus is the holocaust.
You will not regret buying this book; Martel truly transcends the words he writes down; pages do not limit his genius.

Here's a quote (don't read it if yer worried about reading stuff that's deep in the book ahead of time)
"To my mind, faith is like being in the sun. When you are in the sun, can you avoid creating a shadow? Can you shake that area of darkness that clings to you, always shaped like you, as if constantly to remind you of yourself? You can't. This shadow is doubt. And it goes wherever you go as long as you stay in the sun. And who wouldn't want to be in the sun?"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars sadly disappointing, May 26 2010
By 
A. Houston (BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I bought this as an e-book from [...](first mistake) to read on my recent vacation(second mistake) The e-version(no fault of the author)had the font that was meant to be scenes from the play(the story within the story) so small it was illegible no matter how large I set the font on my iPod. That was frustrating and distracting. Aside from that, the book flowed well and I was forced to keep reading it to its end. And, it being a Yann Martel, it had to have a redeeming feature right? Wrong. Although I was moved by the message(ie the horrors we humans inflict on each other, and on the whole of the animal kingdom)I was oddly let down, and felt disappointed, depressed and saddened by the end of the novel. To get myself out of my V&B induced funk (it was the beginning of my vacation, after all), I reread The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society followed by another reread,Life of Pi both of which I loved the first time, and even more this time round. Life of Pi especially, was excellent and even though there was violence and gore, it was tempered by gentle humor. Virgil and Beatrice contained not even an iota of humor that I could detect, and probably, given the subject, it would have been inappropriate. So, gentle reader, beware, if you are expecting another Life of Pi, don't look for it here. This book probably has great deal of literary merit, but for me, a moderately educated professional female who reads to be entertained and/or enlightened, this just didn't cut it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Yann... what happened to you???, March 19 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
After the magic that was "Life of Pi"... I found it difficult to understand how this book came from the same imagination. Rabid fans of "Pi"... neither my Mother nor I could finish "B & V"... finding it cruel & really disturbing. It's not that we mind being disturbed in the name of literature exactly... but oh, it must be well written to be willingly absorbed. Sadly, for us, this novel hasn't fulfilled Martel's promise. However, after the miracle of his first book... we will both try again with the next one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Vivid yet slow, Oct. 3 2012
Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil is a novel told from a novel point of view. Its parable handling of the Holocaust was interesting, as was the framing of the story itself. It is vivid, yet slow. It focuses on description and development of the four main characters. The story is well constructed, though the ending is perhaps a bit weak.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, Aug. 19 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Kindle Edition)
Beatrice & Virgil was an awesome way to follow-up on a previous novel that was one of the best novels I ever read. (Life of Pi).
This is for anyone who likes more thoughtful novels.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Infuriating, May 28 2010
By 
Samantha "Critical Reader" (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
In Beatrice and Virgil, the protagonist claims there are few works of fiction that adequately portray The Holocaust. This novel is supposed to do the job but doesn't come close. While it is difficult for fiction, or facts for that matter, to adequately portray such systematic torture and murder, I've read many poignant, powerful novels about The Holocaust. This novel is not at all evocative of the history. In order to see the Holocaust allegory of Beatrice and Virgil's outrageously boring "conversations", you have to know a lot about the Holocaust already; and if you do, this story told by a stuffed monkey and donkey will just boggle your mind. And to nitpick, the two main human characters are both named Henry and there is no inventive reason for it. I almost put it down halfway through, but expected something amazing to happen near the end, like in Life of Pi, that would make the dull slogging worthwhile. I was sadly disappointed. The "Nazi" character is as like every Nazi ever portrayed; no subtle nuances here. The end was full of violence, but seemed superfluous because it was far too removed from reality to have any effect other than revulsion. This novel did not enlighten. It was an exercise in the reader being tortured by its flawed creativity, its lofty aspirations to be original. Even the "games", a series of graphic, horrifying "questions" posed at the close of the book, though powerful and sleep disturbing, were not particularly original. Beatrice and Virgil is not a coherent representation of The Holocaust. It strikes me more as a writer indulging himself at the reader's expense.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations, April 26 2010
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
I think there was too much hype surrounding this book and I will admit that I had some high expectations based on the phenomenal work that was Life of Pi. In my opinion this book falls short, the writing too simple, uninteresting detail, droning on and on. In a word, boring. The few poignant concepts explored in this book could have been done in a short essay instead of a full novel. I feel as though Martel had a difficult thing he wanted to address (the Holocaust) and had this idea to include talking, feeling animals (Beatrice and Virgil) but instead of the creative genius we saw in Pi, he just pieced this together haphazardly, almost as a way to just "get another book out". I do not feel that this book encouraged the holocaust to be viewed in a new light or from a new perspective. I believe Martel is a good writer and will continue to give his work a chance, however this particular book fell short. Not to mention it was exorbitantly priced in book stores both in the US and Canada (more affordable here on Amazon, I see).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Behind Fiction, July 1 2010
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Beatrice & Virgil (Hardcover)
Here are some thoughts on Martel's latest novel:
1. "Beatrice and Virgil" is certainly ambitious in terms of the scope and power of ideas. There is a fair bit of moving around and resettling in this complex allegory. Martel, however, is very adept at keeping things together so that they don't become too disjointed and unwieldy;
2. I liked the way Martel parallels various themes such as the persecution of Jews and the human extermination of wildlife. The lessons drawn from these two ongoing events in history form the philosophical basis for a number of key issues emerging in the story;
3. In the end, both Henrys create stories that not only uncannily mirror each other but reflect the overall innate desire of humans to exploit situations for their own advantage, whatever life form it takes. The events of this work on grow in intensity as these two wannabe writers come together in a common purpose;
4. I found the comparison of taxidermists to writers to be especially clever. After all, both professions represent people trying to create the illusion of resurrecting life out of something dead;
5. The element of irony is unmistakably at its best when the reader realizes what both writers attempt to create for posterity only reflects the human desire to dehumanize and destroy. Any efforts to make these terrible tragedies of human existence more appealing to the human senses - a flip-book version or a drama - only reveal what a hopeless state of denial we find ourselves in as we try to cover up our past;
6. The section on moral games at the end is a nice finishing touch to a very sobering account of human history;
7. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed reading "Life of Pi" because it once again underscores what a good writer can do with the modern allegory. While I did not award this novel top marks because it didn't quite match the power of Pi, it certainly turned out to be a terrific read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Beatrice & Virgil
Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel (Hardcover - April 6 2010)
Used & New from: CDN$ 0.26
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews