Honestly I could end this post at “Everything Susanna Clarke does is sublime and all her books are books I wish I’d written, and everyone is correct that Piranesi is great”.
But I guess I won’t, because I love the sound of my own voice*.
Ugh Piranesi is just so good. Everything about it is perfectly tuned to my sensibilities – from the aesthetic of a giant labyrinthine House filled with eroding marble statues and the sea, to the mid-century English mysticism that Clarke plays with so pleasingly, to every twist, to every mystery left unanswered, to the tightness of the plot and the simultaneous lushness of the world and description. It’s somehow slow and immersive in the way of the best kinds of fantasy and quite pacy and tense.
I felt very deeply the “you can’t go home again” aspect of it. Mourning the things that no longer are and can no longer be and perhaps could never be, going to all this effort to find that things you thought could be restored were long gone. I felt it all hard. But there’s something weirdly comforting in the imagery of it. I liked that.
I don’t want to say too much, because this isn’t a book that should be spoilered, and I don’t want to write a load of cryptic praise either. I’ve had a pretty hard week, and I don’t think I could write anything in-depth and insightful anyway, and Piranesi deserves better than that. So suffice it to say that everyone is right – this is a great book and if you have the time, definitely read it. I’ll lend you my copy if I have to.
*tapping of my fingers on the keys as I give my overinflated opinions