Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere was the Close Encounters “Books Without Pictures” book club for March-April (as in we read it in March, meet in April). The meeting was originally scheduled for April 3, but had to be re-scheduled due to illness. So, we’re were going to meet tonight, April 10th, but I’ve been unable to go for family reasons. Even so, heres some of my thoughts on Neverwhere.

I’ll start by saying that, despite being by Gaiman, Neverwhere didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I mean, I definetly enjoyed it, but I took very little away from it, certainly less so than I did Day of the Triffids. My most prevalent thoughts (and bear in mind I finished this over two weeks ago now) were that I really liked Gaimans use of locations. Knightsbridge becoming “Nights Bridge” and somewhere to fear is the main example I can think of right now. I found that whole aspect genuinely fun, likewise I enjoyed the use of abandoned places basically becoming “London Below” as there is so much of our capital that appears on those “Forgotten Cities” style shows that Gaiman populating forgotten Underground stations or the sewer system below the city made them feel alive and vivid. Admitedly, as someone who’s only really been to St Pancras, a few underground stations and then some of the touristy spots like Harrods or the Natural History Museum, some of the places I just know by their name so maybe his use of them is lost on me a little, but yeah, I found that really fun.

The other aspect that really stood out was that his female characters were pretty strong. Obviously there’s Hunter, the legendary bodyguard, but even Door is capable and her soft nature and small stature belies her strong will and moral sensibilities. She’s the one character that ever shows Richard any remorse for the situation he has been dragged into and ultimately its her own strength of character that redeems the entire situation and fools Islington.

I’d have liked to get to know the Marquis more, I know Gaiman wrote an additional short story but I’ve not had opportunity to read that, I’m not even sure if its in the edition of the book that I have (I’ve leant it to one of the other members of the book club, so will check when he’s finished with it and I see him again). Likewise I really liked Old Bailey but we didn’t get half as much time with him as I’d have liked.

For next month the group has voted on “Red Earth and Pouring Rain” by Vikram Chandra, I’ve never heard of this book nor the author before and a quick look at its synopsis makes it sound really interesting and totally different to what I’d normally read: Combining Indian myths, epic history, and the story of three college kids in search of America, a narrative includes the monkey’s story of an Indian poet and warrior and an American road novel of college students driving cross-country.

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