Thursday, 22 April 2021

Micro Review 20


A Hundred Million Years and a Day by Jean-Baptiste Andrea, trans. Sam Taylor (Gallic Books)

Free copy provided by Gallic Books

I've long been a fan of the quirky tales Gallic Books find and translate into English and this one is no exception.

It tells the story of one professor of paleontology and his quest to make the biggest fossil discovery of his life. 

Following on from what could easily be dismissed as a story told for children the unorthodox Stan draws together an unlikely band of helpers and makes for the high Alps to start his quest. The weather only allows a short window of exploration each summer so as well as financial pressures there are also serious time constraints. The isolation and impending sense of danger are almost characters in their own rights...

To say more would ruin the book, and I am pleased that I followed my instinct of a an enticing blurb and researched the book no further before reading:

When he hears a story about a huge dinosaur fossil locked deep inside an Alpine glacier, university professor Stan finds a childhood dream reignited. Whatever it takes, he is determined to find the buried treasure.

But Stan is no mountaineer and must rely on the help of old friend Umberto, who brings his eccentric young assistant, Peter, and cautious mountain guide Gio. Time is short: they must complete their expedition before winter sets in. As bonds are forged and tested on the mountainside, and the lines between determination and folly are blurred, the hazardous quest for the Earth’s lost creatures becomes a journey into Stan’s own past.

This breathless, heartbreaking epic-in-miniature speaks to the adventurer within us all.

The chapters are short, and almost breathless and I found myself eagerly turning the page to see where the story went next, in honesty I surprised myself by being less interested in Stan's back story - I was too eager to follow the progress on the mountain - but by the end I was reconciled to why it was needed.

Taylor's translation (strangely this is the 3rd translation from him that I've read recently) is brilliant and if you are looking for a quirky read then Gallic Books have come up trumps once more.

Many thanks to Gallic Books for offering copies to reviewers, the book is published at the start of May and I do really recommend it.

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