The buzzzzzzz is right…

Rebecca Miller’s new novel Jacob’s Folly (Canongate) is just so good I can’t stop telling people about it, it has been getting rave reviews all over the place, which I know sometimes has the opposite effect than that intended but don’t be contrary: you’ll be so pleased that you read this. It is refreshing and original and clever with a wit and a lightness of touch that draws you in and makes you so interested to see what Jacob does next. I was aware of how much I was enjoying reading it as I went along and yes, tried to read more slowly to make it last…
Jacob awakes realising that he has died, his life in eighteenth-century Paris, as a peddler of knives, salt cellars and snuffboxes, and unhappy husband, is over. Instead he has wings and a literal overview of a strange new world: twenty-first century America. Jacob thinks he might be an angel, sent to help one or perhaps two people. He is tiny, has very short arms and unusual eyes but he can fly! Negotiating the wonders of this new place – cars, roads, elevators – trying to find out what his purpose is, Jacob sees a mirror and understands his new, true nature.
The blurb says Miller is exploring “the hold of the past on the present, the power of private hopes and dreams, and the collision of fate and free will.” which is all true, this is a very satisfying novel, chock full of ideas for your consideration. Jacob is one of the most exciting characters I’ve come across in a while. Whether in his Parisian life living by his wits in a, if not hostile then uncaring, world or in his new glorious wingéd incarnation, he is captivating, infuriating and very real – you do care about what happens to him and Miller keeps you on your toes – you never know what is going to happen next – which, I think you’ll agree, is a fine thing in a book.


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