One thing I like about Jim Crace is that no two books that he writes are alike so it’s always interesting to see what he’ll come up with. To date I’ve read three of his novels ; Being Dead (which I enjoyed) Quarantine ( I rate this one highly) and The Devil’s Larder ( mixed reactions) and now Arcadia.
At this point I’m finding it difficult to actually explain clearly what Arcadia is actually about. On the surface it’s about an 80-year-old millionaire, Victor , who wants to demolish a Market Place in order to build a mall (called Arcadia), albeit one that relies heavily on nature. As we delve further in the book we find out that Victor was born in the country and had to move to the city due to unfortunate circumstances. To add another plot we have Victor’s ex assistant, Rook, who is against Arcadia as it will create loss of jobs. As you can guess Arcadia does get the go ahead and with some unexpected results.
To confuse matters more this whole story is told through the eyes of a journalist who is sent to cover Victor’s death ten years later AND most of the time he uses a different writing style to document the whole story.
I have a feeling that Arcadia is open to many interpretations. From my point of view I saw it as man’s will to return to his roots, at least that’s what Victor represented. Rook represents man’s unwillingness to change. I also saw it as society’s need to evolve. Even as a small satire on the upper classes and the law.
This is definitely a novel that leaves one to reflect and debate. It also (to date) is THE Jim Crace novel to read if you want an introduction to his work.