Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Book Stops Here?

It used to be that I felt obliged to finish a book once I had started it, but those days have long passed. I have grown fairly ruthless at cutting loose when I've had enough and this has happened quite a lot lately. I stopped in the middle of Elizabeth Goudge's THE DEAN WATCH a few weeks ago. I know she is much admired by some of my fellow bloggers so I thought I would give her a try, but something about the omniscient point of view put me off. I didn't want to be told so much about the inner life of the characters and their history (though for some reason I don't mind this when it is Trollope). I generally prefer to discover it gradually for myself. Perhaps she is one of those writers it is best to read in youth and it was just too late for me.
I've also recently stopped in the middle of a book of memoirs: I decided I didn't like this person much and didn't want to spend any more time with him. This nearly happened too with Orhan Pamuk's THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE, our latest book group choice. I got to around page forty or fifty - often a make or break point for me - and found the voice of the narrator and what he had to say so annoying that I felt I didn't want to spend 500 pages with him. A novel this long really has to have something good to offer! But after a break I went back to it and I'm glad I did. After struggling along for a while I became completely absorbed by this extraordinary tale of obsessive love and the picture of Turkey between 1975 and 2000 that came slowly into focus.

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