The Blasphemer

Nigel Farndale, Author
Nigel Farndale, Crown, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-307-71703-0
Reviewed on: 06/28/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
In British author Farndale's elegant meditation on morality (among many other topics), Daniel Kennedy, a biologist specializing in worms, is convinced that the universe is godless—until the plane carrying him and his partner, Nancy, to the Galapagos Islands crashes in the ocean. In his desperate scramble to escape the sinking plane, he pushes Nancy out of the way, though he later returns to rescue her. While the primary plot concerns Daniel and Nancy's efforts to come to terms with their near-death experience, as well as Daniel's betrayal, which Nancy can neither forget nor forgive, this ambitious novel interweaves several other narratives, one involving Daniel's grandfather in WWI (the author brilliantly evokes trench warfare), and another focused on what may be an original manuscript of part of Mahler's "unfinished" symphony. A third subplot focuses on the couple's nine-year-old daughter and her music teacher, a Muslim, in London. Farndale (A Sympathetic Hanging) can be didactic, but he knows how to tell a terrific story. (Aug.)
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