I brought Until I Find You by John Irving along to The Gambia in February, despite being in the middle of Aubrey/Maturin. I thought it would be a good idea to bring a book I could leave behind. Which it would have been, of course, if I’d had more time to read so that I had actually finished it, or if it had been uninteresting enough to dump half-finished. I didn’t and it wasn’t, so it came back home again, and having (finally) finished O’Brian last week I picked up Irving again.
I have some issues with Irving. This is only the second Irving I have actually managed to finish (the first being A Widow for One Year), and it’s a question of circumstance rather than of them being essentially different to the ones I tried and failed with. In both cases I have brought them along for travel reading, so that in both cases there haven’t been all that many other options beckoning me. This is to Irving’s benefit, because I find his novels really slow to start with. In the case of A Widow for One Year I positively disliked the first part, getting more interested once Ruth-as-adult entered the scene, and it wasn’t until two-thirds of the way through that it acquired the can’t-put-it-down-quality of a really good read. Until I Find You similarly drags at the beginning, and though I found Jack and Alice more interesting all the way through, I probably wouldn’t have persisted if I hadn’t already read A Widow for One Year and known Irving to be a slow starter (unlike the Vienna trip, I did bring other books to The Gambia, so I had a choice).
That said, once the pace picks up after a twist in the tale, it really picks up, and I resented having to put the book down for any reason throughout the last 200 or so pages. I felt a little let down by the ending when I read it, but only a little, and it’s growing on me.