Book Review: The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale (DNF)

The Blasphemer by Nigel FarndaleThis book had been on my TBR pile for ages, the main reason being that it was an e-book and I don’t have an e-reader. I put the book in my TBR Slash challenge in an attempt to finally read those books that had been on my shelves (or laptop) for ages.

When I ran into a paper copy of this book in the library, I was very pleased. It meant I didn’t have to spend ages reading it on my laptop.

Even so, I didn’t finish this book. I read only to page 319. I read this book as part of my TBR Slash challenge which stated that I could stop reading at page 75 if I wasn’t keen to continue.

The Blasphemer: What it is about

Not in my own words, this is from the Dutch online book store “He had always been scared of flying. Now, the fear is real. A plane crash. The water is rising over his mouth. In his nostrils. Lungs. As Daniel gasps, he swallows; and punches at his seat-belt. Nancy, the woman he loves, is trapped in her seat. He clambers over her, pushing her face into the headrest. It is a reflex, visceral action made without rational thought…But Daniel Kennedy did it. And already we have judged him from the comfort of our own lives.

Almost a hundred years earlier, Daniel’s great-grandfather goes over the top at Passchendaele. A shell explodes, and he wakes up alone and lost in the hell of no-man’s-land. Where are the others? Has he been left behind? And if he doesn’t find his unit, is he a deserter? Love; cowardice; trust; forgiveness. How will any of us behave when we are pushed to extremes?”

The Blasphemer: What I thought

I did not finish this book. I read until page 319 and realised I had been bored for a while and had started to skim-read the pages. So no, I didn’t feel like doing that for another 100 pages to the end of the book.

There are two stories in the book, one of Daniel and his plane crash and the other of his great-grandfather in WWI. I didn’t enjoy the story of the great-grandfather at all (I’m not really one for war stories) so that left me with only half a book of interest.

The story of Daniel also didn’t interest me after some point. Reading about the plane crash and the trying to get back to a normal life was quite good, with Nancy, Daniel’s wife especially having a difficult time. That story faded out (in my eyes) and then there wasn’t nothing left for me to look forward to in the book, nothing that I wanted to see resolved.

Not even the coming together of the two stories could keep my interest. This involved Daniel finding some letters of his great-grandfather that he wanted to investigate, but I wasn’t holding my breath for him to find out what happened to his ancestor.

I wonder if I would have picked up this book if it hadn’t been a free e-book, which teaches me to look a gift-horse carefully in the mouth before accepting. My aim is to read every book I own, so I better not own too many books that aren’t really for me.

Rating: DNF (read until page 319)

I got this book: from the library and as a free e-book download

I read this in: Dutch (Ongeloof, the original language is English)

Number of pages: 416

First published: 2010

Genre: historical fiction, contemporary fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

12 Responses to Book Review: The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale (DNF)

  1. Uniflame says:

    Maybe I should participate an off the shelf challenge as well next year. I too have some books that I have for a while, but not read yet. Too bad that this book didn’t interest you enough to finish it.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Uniflame, that type of challenge works very well for me because I genuinely want to have those books off my shelf so I try very hard! 🙂

      I did like the book for a while, but not enough, unfortunately.

      • Ready When You Are, C.B. is running his TBR Dare again from 01 Jan to 01 Apr if you wanted a challenge, Uniflame?

        Judith – you are so right about checking that gift horse out thoroughly. I am terrible at accepting books that sound sort of interesting… and getting bored with them very quickly.

      • Leeswammes says:

        Tea, my problem is that I think that I *must* read every book I own. So, I filter at the door, so to speak. Some people download / accept whatever and then either read or don’t read it. I can’t do that. So I need challenges to get myself to at least try certain books that don’t appeal much.

        TBR Dare sounds good, although I may commit to a year-long challenge.

  2. Tes says:

    I know the feeling of trying to read a bored book! I’m looking forward to seeing your next review… really need some really good book to read this week 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Tes, the last time someone asked me for a book recommendation, I didn’t know what to say! And I read SO much. I just don’t remember half of what I read. So, the blog is my memory.

      Have you read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern? I’ve just started that, and I’m enjoying it. Most people love this book, but some people couldn’t finish it. I think you’d like it.

  3. I loved this book, but it has been a while since I read it so can’t remember the final details. I remember the power of that plane crash scene and I also thought the war scenes were some of the most moving I’ve ever read, but I do remember it having too much going on in places – the terrorist attack wasn’t needed.

    I did think the ending was poignant so it is a shame you got so near, but didn’t quite make it.

    This book had some fantastic ideas and I think it is a shame more people haven’t read it. Sorry you didn’t appreciate it – do you think it might have been a translation issue?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Jackie, I don’t think translation had much to do with it. I just didn’t like the war story at all – in fact, I gave up on another book this week that included a lot of war (it’ll be on my Dutch blog on Friday) – it’s something I just can’t enjoy. I loved the plan crash story, that was very good- and one of the reasons I made it that far into the book at all.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Hmmm. I have this one on my shelf and it’s been highly recommended by some people I know.

    • Leeswammes says:

      You may well like it, Suzanne. It’s well written and if you like the elements of the story (I didn’t like the war part), then you’ll definitely enjoy it.

  5. From an author I received his book, but it is an e-book and I have to say I don’t like reading on my PC. I don’t have an e-reader and I’m not going to buy one, but on my pc I’m always distracted, so I’m not really haven’t read much. If you read an e-book on you pc, how do you do it? I mean are there some tips and tricks?

    • Leeswammes says:

      I read with Adobe Digital Editions (epub files) and make the screen as big as I can without having to scroll the whole time.

      Otherwise, no tips. Just read a little at a time, no more than an hour, I’d say, to keep your eyes healthy.

      I hardly ever accept e-books from authors- it’s just not pleasant to read on a PC.

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