Just read: The White Goddess: An Encounter by Simon Gough
Just to be clear, when I say «Just read» I really mean that I read this book over a period of seven months. Does this tell you enough?
I bought it at Blackwell’s in Oxford last summer, and if you don’t know Blackwell’s, it’s a gigantic book store and they had the BRILLIANT idea of offering their customers blind dates with books. They wrap the books up and write a little something about them on the paper, and you choose one that sounds appealing to you. That way you don’t judge the books by its cover. They also don’t give you the blurb but really just tell you why it is awesome. So I put total faith in the booksellers and ended up with Simon Goughs memoir.
«When 10-year-old Simon Gough went to Majorca in 1953 he thought he had landed in paradise. Far from the misery of his English boarding school and his parent’s divorce, he fell in love – with the tiny village of Deya, with his wild cousin Juan and most of all with his beloved ”Grand-Uncle” Robert Graves.
When he returned in 1960, paradise had been overrun by beatniks and marijuana – and Simon liked it all the more. But soon he fell for the enchanting Margot Callas, Robert Graves’ muse. He found himself entangled in a web of lies and deceit and playing a game whose rules he didn’t understand. The repercussions would haunt him for the rest of his life.
The White Goddess: An Encounter is a mesmerising tale of sex, lies and divided loyalties. Set between the magic of a bohemian Majorca and the horror of Franco’s Madrid, it is a haunting evocation of a lost time and place, dominated by the extraordinary power of Robert Graves, one of the 20th century’s greatest writers.»
There were some very intriguing things about this book. First of all, it’s really a memoir but it is written in the style of a novel. It’s very captivating at first and fort he first 162 pages it’s impossible to put down. That is because the first part of the book (162 pages) describes Simon’s childhood when he visited his uncle in Majorca. It all feels very surreal and insane and beautiful. It takes you right to Spain and makes you crave the ocean and paella and crazy relatives. (and I don’t even like paella all that much. But after reading this I can’t stop thinking about it!)
The only thing wrong with the book is that the author didn’t finish the book there. Oh no, seven years later he’s back, an angst ridden teenager, filled to the brim with hormones and uncontrollable lust. AND OF COURSE HE FALLS IN LOVE! Oh, and not just with any girl, nope! His heart’s desire is his grand-uncle’s twenty-four year old lover! Feel disgusted yet?
As you can probably guess, Margot (the girl’s name) and Simon have a somewhat complicated relationship. They each start living in Madrid and they hang out from time to time, and whenever they don’t he turns into Bella Swan. You know, Spain was under dictatorship at the time, you’d think there were more things to worry about. Nah, Simon only cares about why Margot will not comply to his clinginess.
It just got way too much for me and I had to pick up something else to read. I mean, seriously, at one point he rips a corpse’s head off and gives it to Margot as a symbol of his undying love for her. What… WHY?! Is this a guy thing? – Boys, never ever under any circumstances give me a human head! I’ll go out with you for chocolates, I swear!
Why I kept reading I’ll never know.
This incident aside, the most disturbing part for me, was the end. See, now I’m torn between bringing on the spoilers and letting people find out for themselves. I’ll cut it short: Margot runs off, Simon gets in a fight with his uncle, the end. ALL THAT DRAMA AND HE DOESN’T EVEN GET THE GIRL! Damn it, Simon!
I have been holding all that in for quite some time, believe me! On the plus side, there are some characters that made it worth my time. For instance, Beryl, Simon’s aunt. She’s just so down to earth and sweet and kind, and geez, that woman is patient! She doesn’t mind the least that her husband is having an affair with this young bimbo. He calls Margot his «Muse» and she totally goes along with it. And then there’s also Stella, some girl who spends her holidays in Majorca, and she said what I kept thinking the entire time: «It’s better than moping around like a love-sick idiot,» she retorted. «You’re quite a pair, you and Robert, both pining after the same woman – sorry –goddess–!» Oooh, burnn!
Well, I think Simon should have gone after Stella. The two or three times she appeared she seemed very cool and grounded, and, man, I wish there was a book about her instead!
I need to stop now because I could rant on forever and ever, and then I’d miss my lecture, and then I would not know enough about the exciting world of Slavic philology.
Have a good rest of the week everybody!
Lots of love from the roots of my heart,
The header image has nothing to do with the book. I just like Sangria (and it’s Spanish, that counts, right?)