Author: Emma Donoghue, 2010.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 323 pages.
Room is 5-year old Jack's entire world. It is where he was born and where he and his Ma eat and sleep; where they play and learn. In Room there are the imaginary worlds he sees through the TV; there is Wardrobe where Ma places him to sleep at night in case Old Nick visits. Room may be home to Jack but to Ma it is the prison where she has been held for seven years. She has shielded her son from the reality of their situation and constructed a life within the eleven-by-eleven foot space of Room. Yet Jack is becoming more and more curious and asking questions. So she decides to tell him that she has been lying and that there is a world outside.
The entire novel is narrated by Jack and I feel that ultimately it works or fails on whether the reader finds Jack's voice credible. It failed for me from the start as I did not really feel that Jack, just having turned 5, could really have had the level of comprehension expressed within the novel. Some sections worked but far too much just didn't.
Room was an easy, quick read but overall I found it far too sentimental and manipulative for my taste. As the idea for the novel came to the author when she heard about the real life imprisonment of Elizabeth Fritzl it felt rather like a fictionalised misery memoir (MizFic). Hopefully, this won't be the beginning of a new trend in fiction.
This book is already a runaway best seller and widely acclaimed by critics and readers on sites such as Goodreads, so I know that I am in the minority when I say that I found it dull and rather annoying. However, I have to be true to my experience.
This year I have had the opportunity to be part of an official Man Booker Partnership Reading Group through my local library. We have shadowed the judges in reading the six short-listed titles during the same six week period. This was the first of the books that I read and it remains at the bottom of my ranking of the short list.
Room the Book - includes a useful layout of Room.