I kept waiting for something to really happen in this book. I enjoyed the general narrative, felt it was about 40% too long and read it on Kindle so I missed the footnotes which is probably for the best.
I loved where this book started and it lost me partway through and never totally got me back. This is an interesting slipstream-y novel where you’re never really sure when “now” is and which version of the present tense action is actually real. Not that it totally matters, but I really liked the first version of reality, with its fully baked characters and a lot of interesting interpersonal dynamics nd just wasn’t as interested in the second part of the store which was basically... a war story. Not only a war story--with basically nearly all male characters talking about war--but one predicated on suffering. Which, had I known that going in, I would not have read. So, mostly a bad fit. De Abaitua is clearly a super capable writer who put a lot of work into this, but I felt like someone would have to, first off, enjoy war novels to be able to want to get at the more complex stuff going on behind the second (and to a lesser extend, third) part of this novel.
I’m not sure if “fun” is the right word but this is a great collection of disaster stories, many which were contemporary, that come from newspaper accounts at the time. While many of these records have been superceded, it’s still fascinating to learn about some old-tyme disasters and what caused them and what was going on in the world at the time.