Okay, so the title of this post probably gives away what I think of this novel! I have enjoyed all of Iain Pears’ previous novels and Arcadia can now be added to this number.
It is a difficult novel to categorise so I am not really going to try. The Guardian called it a “fantastical extravaganza” and The Independent claimed that it was a “near-perfect take on the perils of a parallel universe”.
Pears effortlessly intertwines three interlocking worlds and ten characters to create a wonderfully engaging story that celebrates the magic of storytelling. With a spot of time travel thrown in. And an homage (not a pastiche as it is a gentle portrayal not a mean one) to the kind of pastoral idyll found in certain fairy tales. I always find when I read Pears’ novels that I just ‘sink in’ to the writing, it envelopes me and I find myself raising my head dazed having read straight for three hours. And Arcadia was no different.
However, it is a complex read, so complex that the author developed an app to accompany the book to help the reader keep track of the characters’ as they move between worlds and influence each others’ lives. I decided to forego the app for the first read, but now I am going to go back and follow each character’s story in turn (therefore reading the novel ‘out of sequence’) so I can appreciate even more the cleverness of this novel.
I hope I have’t put off prospective readers talking about the complexity of the plotting; Arcadia is a great read!