We are reading this modern play in school, and while I normally dislike all the time spent analyzing the characters, plot and time-period, reading it didn’t feel like torture. So here are my thoughts!
Family Birling is celebrating the engagement of daughter Sheila to Gerald, the son of a wealthy business man, when an inspector interrupts: a girl has just committed suicide in the most horrific way and family members are involved. Everyone denies knowing the girl, but it soon becomes clear that they all had a connection to her somewhere in the past. But in the end, why did the girl commit suicide, what drove her – and whose actions can be held responsible?
Genre: classic play, mystery
Publikation Date: 1945
The plot, together with the characters the most important and dominant aspects of this play, is truly difficult for me to review because I have two very strong feelings. The first being that when I started this book, I was super intrigued: as soon as the inspector appeared and announced the suicide of the young woman to the family, I wanted to know exactly how everyone was connected and played their part in her death and who exactly would be held responsible at the end. And that feeling, of wanting to know, and the gripping aspect was kept alive during the whole book until the very end – no page was boring, twists and turns kept lurking behind every new page and new aspects were revealed until the very end.
So, the positive side of the plot was its gripping way of telling a story, the character’s roles in the death of the girl and the suspense until the very last page. The negative side however, was the ending: what was that?! The action slowed down ten pages before the end of the book and I was expecting one thing to happen after all the relations were revealed, and then with the very last sentence, the ending shifts. But not in a good way: for me, the ending was the very worst example of a cliffhanger. Developing a moral compass seemed, at least to me, to be the essence of the book: that by being part of the force that drove the girl to death, the characters overthink their behavior and change something in their way of life. However, that was not the case, but let’s make that a new paragraph:
The only character that developed a moral compass and change of attitude was Sheila, and while Eric agreed with her at the ending, his change of mind was out of the blue and not at all understandable and explained, which is very bad writing, if you ask me. So, the very essence of the book was undertaken poorly.
Other than that, the characters were interesting and mysterious throughout the book (in disregard of the ending) and that was enjoyable. Every character’s relation to the dead girl was different, multi-layered and nicely added to the story and made the whole mystery complexer and nice to read.
Recommendable: the story itself yes, but the ending is very disappointing.
I am so very furious about that ending that in my opinion, I am very gracious with rating this book three stars. The thing is, every other aspect except the ending and the poorly written essence of the book was great and I enjoyed reading the book – but the ending destroyed it all.
And since the ending of a book is something so very fundamental and of high impact, I don’t think it’s too harsh to take away two stars. I will discuss this with my teacher and ask my friends (they also enjoyed reading the book) what they thought of the ending and will maybe write some follow-up post later on!