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The Life of Pi By Yann Martell (2001)/ Notes on a Scandal By Zoe Heller (2003)

A sixteen year old is shipwrecked in the middle of the Indian Ocean and is forced to share his life boat with amongst other things a Bengal Tiger.

The Life of Pi starts well, has an interesting plot turn in the middle, but runs out of steam about two thirds of the way through, and if I’m honest I skimmed the last fifty pages just to see what happened in the end.

Why this won the Man Booker Prize of 2002 I can’t explain. The plot dies a death and the prose is nothing special but I imagine as with most awards, politics of a sort comes into play.

I enjoyed the first part of the book before Pi, the main protagonist, takes to the waves as it explored the social make up of ‘Seventies India as it emerged from the Raj Era, and the adolescent musings of Pi as he explores the many faiths of the Sub Continent is fascinating, echoing the open minded views of Gandhi who revered and took inspiration from a wide variety of faiths and practices.

The book itself came under severe attack due to plagiarism allegations, not proven but not wholly refuted either.

It had promise but just failed to deliver, in my opinion.


however is your archetypal page turner and thoroughly enjoyable as the plot and prose just flows and I would have easily read it in one go.

A young female teacher embarks on a relationship with one of her pupils, confessing all to her older, spinsteresque colleague, the relationship between the two being the main dynamic of the book.

Heller clearly has a good understanding of the common staffroom quirks which were apparent and a common denominator in the three schools in which I taught.

I based the way in which I approached my teaching career on three main role models. Firstly John Oxley whose passion for history inspired me and for the way he made me believe in myself, then there was John Walsh for his human touch and the way he listened to us and showed us respect, and finally Eileen Hodgson for the high demands she made of herself and those around her to be the best they could be.

I was lucky enough to know the later two outside of school as James and especially Andy, are great pals of mine, and when Mr. Walsh gave the eulogy at Mrs. Hodgson’s Funeral today it made me realise what a privilege it was to have been brought up with these people’s influence as part of my life.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


One thought on “The Life of Pi By Yann Martell (2001)/ Notes on a Scandal By Zoe Heller (2003)

  1. Hi mate. Thanks for the kind remarks. It was good to see you, Rich and Pete on Tuesday.
    I read Life of Pi last year and I agree that the book seems to start casting around for plot developments about two thirds of the way in. I think it would have worked far better as a novella, or even as a couple of short stories. Having said that, it did have some very good ideas in there, and I was highly amused by the scene involving the priests and the imam, utterly nonplussed by Pi’s wish to be a Christian, Muslim and Hindu all at once.

    Posted by Andy | June 8, 2007, 12:29 pm

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