Thorn By Michael Dean
Review by Dan Wright
A historical fiction novel that is (I guess) based on true events, I must admit that this is a period of history that I am not entirely familiar with. Therefore, much of the humour of the piece did go over my head a little bit – but that’s not the books fault in the least. Despite this, I found it a very enjoyable read.
Set in Amsterdam in 1656 and described in first person by Baruch Spinoza, I did find this a very entertaining read. Spinoza is a very witty and sarcastic protagonist whose views on religion often cause more than a few raised eyebrows, able to point out holes in the hypocrisy of the Jewish faith (Spinoza himself is Jewish). Because he maintains such a great rapport with the reader, it’s easy to like him as a character. He paints such a vivid description of the events through his talking that you almost believe that you are there with him the whole time.
Even though much of the “social” commentary was lost on me, I did find myself laughing more than once. I think the funniest part was (minor spoilers follow), was when he is supposed to be excommunicated from the Jewish faith, but he has a play to attend and the director has a go at him for not being able to attend – completely oblivious to his problems!
It is a very funny novel, but there are some dark moments as well and you will feel for poor Spinoza more than once. It’s a great read and if you’re a historical expert you should be able to appreciate the humour of the piece.
I give Thorn 4/5 stars.
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