Changing Places by David Lodge -- Book Review

"High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. They were protected from the thin, cold air by the pressurized cabins of two Boeing 707s, and from the risk of collision by the prudent arrangement of the international air corridors."

Sometimes, you go on a date with a really great guy. He's smart, funny and considerate. He takes you somewhere fun, opens the car door for you, and asks lots of questions about where you work and what you read. You laugh at his jokes and smile and really, really want to like him because he deserves to be liked. He's perfect and gorgeous--and total not doing anything for you.

That's how I felt about David Lodge's Changing Places.

The novel follows two professors, one from California, the other from England, who switch positions for a year in an exchange program through their respective universities. They not only trade positions, however, as each finds himself mixed up in the other man's personal life and political problems. It is the first in a trilogy of campus novels and the next two in the series were both shortlisted for the Booker Prize for fiction.

I know I should like it, and I can tell it's a good book if I look at it objectively. The passages are well written and clever. The author switches from prose to letter to screenplay style with great success, and even throws in a twist at the end when you think you have it all figured out. He works in themes about coincidence and fate and politics and education without coming across as if he did it on purpose.

It should have been a good book, but I just never could get into the story or care much about the characters. I finished the book and had nothing to say, which is one of the reasons why it took me nearly three weeks to write this review.

We had a few laughs together, me and Lodge, but if this was a date, I wouldn't call him back. On the other hand, I might give his number to a girlfriend. After all, he's a catch--just not for me.

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Molly said...

I think the premise of the book does sound intriguing, but I am sorry that it fell short of your expectations. Your review has persuaded me that I should at least give it a try.

Ladytink_534 said...

I hate it when that happens (love the way you wrote this by the way). Sometimes its the mood I'm in that affects my reading experience and when I go back and re-read it later I actually love it.

Tasses said...

Check your email! You're the third place winner on my book stash giveaway contest :-)

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