Book Review: The Man Who Was Thursday

07 Mar

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G. K. Chesterton. 4 = Recommended ReadingGenre: classic; inspirational; mystery; intrigue; suspense; drama

Plot Summary: Gabriel Syme, a poet from Saffron Park, finds himself in over his head in a nightmarish mystery.  From secret meetings, to anarchist intrigues, to wild chases and a flight for his life, Gabriel finds that no one is as they seem.  Who is the man called Sunday?

My Book Review: To be honest, I wasn’t greatly looking forward to reading this book.  A couple years ago I had read The Napoleon of Notting Hill (see my review here) and wasn’t enthusiastic about it.  But I wanted to try my hand at another work of G. K. Chesterton, and I know his books are good for the brain, so I decided to stretch myself once again.

And I’m glad I did.  I liked this one loads more than The Napoleon…  It also happens to be considered Chesterton’s best book.  I was pretty much hooked from the beginning chapters, and actually felt excited about finding out what happens next.  Mysteries that just get more mysterious all the time, impersonations, car chases, secret meetings in secret rooms…  What more could you ask of a thriller?  I’m having a little trouble writing this review because to tell anything more would be to give it away!

The subtitle of this short book is entitled “A Nightmare.”  Given Chesterton’s penchant for hair-brained story-lines, I think this is an apt description.  A lot of intellectual dialogue takes place (hence, get your quote-books ready), but it’s action packed as well.  [Edit: After reading some of Chesterton’s comments about his own novel, I feel I understand it a bit better, which is to say I understand that even the author didn’t take his book seriously enough to understand all of it!  It is, as he reminds us, A Nightmare.]

"He felt he was in possession of some impossible good news, which made every other thing a triviality, but an adorable triviality." ~The Man Who Was Thursday

“He felt he was in possession of some impossible good news, which made every other thing a triviality, but an adorable triviality.” ~The Man Who Was Thursday

When reading The Napoleon…, I came away from it feeling like there was a lot going on that I was not comprehending and needed a commentary to understand it more deeply.  I found that to be the case with this book as well, though I liked it immensely better and felt I could comprehend it a little easier.  There was a three part introductory commentary at the beginning of the copy I borrowed from the library, but frankly I needed a commentary to understand the commentary!  I hope I can get my hands on a better discussion of this classic work.  It seems to be one of those books you could go on dissecting for years and years and still never get to the bottom of it.  I guess that makes it a true classic! 

I’m not sure exactly why this book appealed to me so much.  Maybe it was the action, the unbelievable events.   Maybe it was because it wasn’t what I was expecting when I checked this brown, dull-looking book out of the library.  Or maybe it was because, even though I’m no lit. professor, I couldn’t help but recognize and glean little gems of spiritual allegories in the unfolding of the story.

If you feel you want to give your brain muscles a workout while being taken for a thrill ride at the same time, this book is for you!  It won’t take long to read.  I recommend a good commentary to go along with it!

Have you read this book, too?  Leave your thoughts on it below!

Listen to a free audiobook version of The Man Who Was Thursday.

Or, you can listen to a radio dramatized version from Mercury Theatre, originally aired in 1938:

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Posted by on March 7, 2015 in Book Reviews


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