Sunday, May 06, 2007

Turtle Diary; R. Hoban

I was actually looking for something else when I came across this little book. I remember the Hoban name from a children's story we had when I was a kid, eons past. The flap on the library jacket mentioned two strangers who meet at the London Zoo and decide to free the turtles. I couldn't resist.

It wasn't a caper story, as I wrongly assumed from the blurb. Turtle Diary is a study of how adults can be cut off from society. Similar to living in a zoo, I think. You're constantly surrounded by people, it's noisy and often disheartening and obnoxious. However, in reality, you're cut off from authentic interpersonal relationships.

The chapters alternate between the perspectives of each protagonist- one by William G. and another by Neara H. They are middle aged, single adults cast adrift from most of society for separate reasons. The turtles, though, are what bring Neara and William together. They represent a kind of authenticity, I guess. The need to be free and to interact with the world in a natural and fulfilling way.

Turtle Diary is mainly the interior monologues of the primary characters. Since I approached TD thinking it was a 'caper novel' I was initially put off by this. However, it soon became clear to me that I misinterpreted the flap (as usual) and I reevaluated my opinions. Mr. Hoban has quite a lot to say about the need to reach out to others, about isolation and about humans' need for meaningful relationships. Even if it all has to begin with a pair of turtles.

Mr. Hoban is likely best known as the author of the children's books featuring Frances.

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