Thursday 6 October 2011

Making History - Stephen Fry

Michael Young has a reason to celebrate. He has just finished his thesis which means he will be Dr Michael Young and will soon be asked to become a fellow of the college. His mentor though doesn't quite appreciate his take on history and sends him back to re-rewrite. Leo, a professor on the campus that Michael met by chance, does appreciate it. He's a scientist who is also obsessed with one period in history. Having been brought together they decide to remake history. Little do the realise the trouble it will cause or that the history they create is worse than the original.

I love Stephen Fry. I think he is witty and intelligent. He also has one of those voices I could listen to all day. Yet, I was reluctant to read any of his fiction. I think I didn't want my view of him spoiled. His biographies didn't so I don't know why I thought this might. A friend of mine loves his books and insisted I try it. I'm not sure why I picked this one but it still collected dust after many years.

I am pleased to say that this book hasn't changed my opinion of the author. It was cleverly written and I did love the characters. I loved the idea of it too. Two people who want to correct a horrific era of our history only to make things worse. I found Michael to be endearing. He suited his nickname - pup. I especially enjoyed the second half of the book. That probably comes from me enjoying dystopians so much. Michael finds himself in an alternative history where he is brought up in a different country but he still remembers who he used to be. Leads to some very funny moments.

I loved the ending too. I have to say if it had ended any other way I might have been upset. Although I did have a horrible feeling at one point that the whole thing was going to go off in a circle again. I am so glad that it didn't. Maybe the reader is meant to have that heart stopping moment of fear that the whole thing is going to start over again. It worked on me regardless and the relief that it didn't was extreme.

It was well written as I would expect from any book by Fry. He definitely has a talent for words and his knowledge of history certainly shined through. Despite all that I did find it a bit of a slog 200 pages in. I was read to give up on it if I am truly honest and in fact stopped to read another book. I decided to give it another go and it was only through getting to the second part that I decided to keep with it. I had to know what happened. I would say that it says more about the little time I have for reading these days than it does about Fry's ability to grip the reader.

This books was also part of the 'Books I should Have Read By Now' challenge. It was supposed to be from last month but I took so long in reading it that it bled into October. At the moment I am considering whether or not to continue with the challenge.


  1. I know what you mean about being reluctant to read his fiction, I feel exactly the same. I can't really explain it but, while I couldn't wait to read his autobiographies as soon as they came out, I'm afraid I won't like his fiction at all. I should give it a try though, this sounds like a really interesting story.

  2. Excellent. I tend to be worried about popular personalities writing novels too, but if it's genuinely good I will give it a whirl.

  3. It was interesting Sophia and I am glad I read it. It did feel a bit of a slog at times working my way through it. Like I said in the review it might have something to do with the fact that I am studying.

    Alice, I generally hate it when celebs start to write or the book market is inundated with their biographies. When it is someone I like I feel almost worried that they will let me down. Thankfully Fry didn't. He is definitely gifted with words.

  4. Wow Meg, I guess he is more famous here in the UK. Definitely one of those beloved comedy figures (well beloved to most). I am guessing you will have heard of Hugh Lawrie due to his playing House? Fry and Lawrie went to University together and were part of a troop of comedians which also included Emma Thomson. He and Hugh went on to do a lot of comedy duos together too. Every so often Fry will pop up in a film like V for Vendetta, St' Trinians and Gosford Park. He also read the whole Harry Potter series for audio books. If you like the TV series Bones he played Seeley's British psychiatrist. He's famous here for doing a lot of theater and documentaries. Plus a very funny tv quiz show called QI. He's wrote for years (although nothing recently) but this is the first time I have read anything other than his autobiographies. Oh, and he is also famous for touting twitter in the UK. He loves technology.