Saturday, 4 July 2009

Jaw Dropping Moments Anne Cassidy

When I read a book I expect a range of things. A good story, credible characters, an emotional journey. I like a mystery or a thriller. I like family stories or tales of friendship gone awry. I’m not hard to please but I know what I like.

Sometimes, when I read a book, something wonderful happens. In amidst the perfect storytelling there is a Jaw Dropping Moment. I don’t mean a surprise or a revelation I mean a moment when I sit back and gasp and a thrill runs through me as the writer takes me to another place, shows me another level of human frailty.

I have three examples of this.

FINGERSMITH by Sarah Walters A Victorian melodrama. A terrific read and in the middle there is a moment where I am floored by a plot development. I read on, I turn back. I read on. I am puzzled. I think hard. The penny drops and my smile is wide enough to post the book through.

IN THE DARK by Deborah Moggach This is a fantastic book. It’s set in England during the First World War and is about the people who live in a lodging house. It’s sexy and passionate and at the same time it recreates the genteel poverty of people who lived in such a place. There is a plot development in this book that made me stamp my feet with glee and then shrivel up with embarrassment for previous happenings. It’s stayed with me ever since I read it and it was truly Jaw Dropping.

THE SENATOR’S WIFE by Sue Miller This is a lovely book. A story of a woman who has done everything for the man she loves while retaining her pride and sense of worth. At the end there is one of those moments. I gasp. It can’t be. I close my eyes and think of what human beings are capable of. I shake my head. A thoroughly satisfying (if unsettling) read.

Any other ideas for Jaw Dropping Moments in books?


Nicola Morgan said...

The end of the first chapter of Kate Atkinson's last book, "When will there be good news?"

adele geras said...

Too many to name, Anne, but certainly my jaw dropped in We need to talk about Kevin....and there's one of the funniest of all jaw dropping moments in Philip Roth's THE GHOST WRITER which is terrific.

Elen Caldecott said...

I had a 'throw the book against the wall' moment with John Fowles' The Magus. One too many twists for my battered brain to take...

Katherine Roberts said...

FINGERSMITH did exactly the same for me, Anne! Really loved that book.

Also got the same sort of thrill from THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE.

And - in a more horrific way - I admit my jaw dropped at one stage in BLOODTIDE by Melvin Burgess, even though I've read a lot of horror fiction.

Gillian Philip said...

My jaw didn't exactly drop at the end of NOUGHTS & CROSSES, because I could sort-of see it coming and I put off finishing it for that very reason, but I was definitely throwing the book down and going 'Don't! DON'T you DARE! Don't you - '

Nick Green said...

In defence of John Fowles, Elen (though I agree with you about The Magus, a flawed book I think) have you read his later work 'A Maggot'? I don't think my jaw has ever dropped quite so far. It has, not a twist exactly, but a moment of dawning revelation so profound as to overturn everything that went before it – or rather, let you see it in the right way at last.

I think the best 'twists' are not out of the blue surprises, but run through the entire ribbon of story; they should be present implicitly from the outset, and visible in hindsight running all the way back to the start.

Keren David said...

The end of Sarah Rees Brennan's The Demon's Lexicon was a jaw dropper for me.