Another month, another hunt! This time, the challenge was to read a book with “fool” in the title, which was surprisingly difficult; I typed the word into the library catalogue, and was half expecting to find about a thousand books, all called things like Fool’s Gold or Fool’s Gambit, or Foolish Games… Alas, it wasn’t to be, and most of the results that came up weren’t available at my library. I did, however, stumble across one interesting-looking book, that I probably never would’ve thought to pick up otherwise!
A FOOL, FREE
Eli Larsen is an author and a film-maker; brilliant, creative and successful. Unbeknownst to most of her family, she’s also schizophrenic, and for almost her whole life, she’s heard the voices of Espen, Emil, Erik and Prince Eugen, who have been a comfort to her when life is difficult – and a torment the rest of the time.
I had incredibly mixed feelings about this book, and despite it being over 400 pages long, I don’t really know what I can say about it. It was interesting, of course, to see so deeply into the mind of someone who suffers from schizophrenia, and how it effects her personal and professional lives (which it does, a lot). And the first person narrative made the story seem even more personal – even autobiographical at times, though as far as I’m aware it’s not actually based on Grimsrud’s own life.
At the same time, however, the story felt directionless… Eli would get worse, be hospitalised, get a bit better, be released, and then get worse again, and it just cycled round and round and went nowhere, which was very frustrating, and made the book feel incredibly long. There was some sense of closure at the end, but it just took so long to get there that I found myself frequently bored by it.
On a more positive note, Eli was a very charming and sympathetic character, and I enjoyed her outlook on the world and on her illness. Her friends and family often blended together in the background, but I really loved the ones that managed to stand out – particularly her friend Lolo, who always seemed to be ready to support Eli through every difficulty. And the writing was beautiful. This is clearly an excellently-written, thought-provoking novel; it just… wasn’t really for me.
[Find out more about the Library Scavenger Hunt by following this link!]