What’s the book about?

A chance encounter in a Berlin hotel with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann gives Maurice Swift and our lead character an opportunity to ingratiate himself with someone more powerful than him. For Erich is lonely, and he has a story to tell. Whether or not he should do so is another matter entirely. Once Maurice has made his name, he sets off in pursuit of other people’s stories. He doesn’t care where he finds them – or to whom they belong – if they help him rise to the top.

Why Did I like A Ladder to the Sky?

The brilliance of John’s writing is that he can create a totally despicable and appalling character like Maurice Swift and yet you continue to read in the hope that something dreadful happens to him.  Through the story there is a wonderful variety of characters who weave in and out of Maurice’s life some being real people such as Gore Vidal. The chapter where Maurice and Dash stay with Vidal is wonderful, sharp and hugely entertaining. The interaction between Swift and Vidal when it turns out Gore Vidal has read Maurice’s book is brilliant. I love the comment “you’ve clearly never met a noun that you didn’t think would look better all dressed up in an adjective”. I think John captures Vidal very well or at least what I’d imagine him to be. This is a psychological drama of cat and mouse with a dark humour featuring a person that most of us have come across in our lives and you hope will receive a fitting end. If you want to read one John Boyne, read this one and you’ll be hooked on his writing.

Penguin/£14.99/ 9780857523495

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