MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of Asunder by Chloe Aridjis

Asunder

by Chloe Aridjis

Asunder by Chloe Aridjis X
Asunder by Chloe Aridjis
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Sep 2013, 208 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Asunder is a rich, resonant novel of beguiling depths and beautiful strangeness, exploring the delicate balance between creation and destruction, control and surrender.

Marie's job as a guard at the National Gallery in London offers her the life she always wanted, one of invisibility and quiet contemplation. But amid the hushed corridors of the Gallery surge currents of history and violence, paintings whose power belies their own fragility. There also lingers the legacy of her great-grandfather Ted, the museum guard who slipped and fell moments before reaching the suffragette Mary Richardson as she took a blade to one of the gallery's masterpieces on the eve of the First World War.

After nine years there, Marie begins to feel the tug of restlessness. A decisive change comes in the form of a winter trip to Paris, where, with the arrival of an uninvited guest and an unexpected encounter, her carefully contained world is torn open.

Asunder is a rich, resonant novel of beguiling depths and beautiful strangeness, exploring the delicate balance between creation and destruction, control and surrender.

ONE

They call us guards, warders, invigilators, room keepers, gallery assistants. We are watchmen, sentinels, but we don’t polish guns, shoes or egos. We are custodians of a national treasure, a treasure beyond value stored behind eight Corinthian columns of a neoclassical façade, the dreams of the ancients stuccoed to our building. And our title should honour that.

I came to my profession half by chance, half following an ancestral call. After stumbling upon an ad for a Travelling Exhibition Assistant, I applied for the position but found the vacancy had been filled. Yet the kind man who answered my call mentioned another opening, this one at the British Museum. A guard had just resigned due to the diagnosis of an incurable ailment, and decided he wanted to spend his remaining months staring at something other than nymphs and satyrs locked in battle. They offered him the choice of other wings but he said he wanted to leave London and retire from culture.

My time there didn&#...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Discussion Questions for Asunder by Chloe Aridjis

  1. Early in the novel Marie concedes that her position as guard is actually suited to those afflicted by acedia, a state of torpor in which a person no longer cares about her position or condition in the world. She claims to be free of the ailment, stating (on page 2): "...I do not suffer from boredom or listlessness." Yet we rarely see her act - at least in the beginning of the novel - and her primary interest seems to be inaction or immobility in one form or another. Do you agree with Marie that she does not suffer from acedia?
  2. One could say that Marie is defined by her inaction. As a museum guard, she considers intervening several times (on pages 65 and 68, forexample) but stays still...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

It is to Chloe Aridjis' enormous credit that she makes the daily machinations of a museum guard riveting reading. Marie’s days might be outwardly repetitive and even boring but the reader sees her mind working in inventive and interesting ways...As Marie tries to make peace with her internal struggles, there’s a tightly wound energy that’s apparent on every wonderful page, just waiting to leap up and hold the reader in its welcome embrace...continued

Full Review (789 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Aridjis's intelligent prose makes this slight story into something dramatic and affecting, completely coherent and oddly irresistible. It is a brilliant book.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Dark and peculiar, simultaneously sinister and playful, Aridjis' modern gothic vision will charm those prepared to linger in her cabinet of curiosities.

Author Blurb Diana Athill, author of Stet and Somewhere Towards the End
Brilliantly exact and disconcerting, Asunder exists with an intensity stronger than that of most novels. Reading it is absorbing and enlarging to the imagination.

Author Blurb Eva Hoffman, author of Lost in Translation
Chloe Aridjis writes about sensations at the edges of perception, capturing experiences rarely included in fiction. A surprising sensibility and an effortlessly original voice.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Asunder, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Death in Mud Lick
    Death in Mud Lick
    by Eric Eyre
    When Eric Eyre, investigative and statehouse reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Daily, began ...
  • Book Jacket
    Orange World and Other Stories
    by Karen Russell
    Karen Russell has a tremendous gift for crafting uncanny, through-the-looking glass worlds that are ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book of Longings
    The Book of Longings
    by Sue Monk Kidd
    The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd follows the life of Ana, a woman born in the Galilean city of ...
  • Book Jacket: Master Class
    Master Class
    by Christina Dalcher
    Christina Dalcher's Master Class shows America sleepwalking into a perfectionist eventuality not ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Prisoner's Wife
    by Maggie Brookes

    Inspired by the true story of a courageous young woman who enters a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Daughter of the Reich
    by Louise Fein

    A spellbinding story of impossible love set against the backdrop of the Nazi regime.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Paris Hours
by Alex George

One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The House on Fripp Island

The House on Fripp Island
by Rebecca Kauffman

A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

B I T T Water

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.