Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day!

The snow is swirling around so much outside my window that it looks like it's falling upward, and the news is have special nonstop blizzard coverage. This means that today I had a very rare snow day off from work! The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to make a final push and finish reading a book I've been trudging through for the past three weeks.

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt had been on my reading list for a few months. I really enjoyed Possession, the other book of hers that I've read. That book weaves together the stories of two modern day literary scholars with the lives of the writers they study. The Children's Book sounded like it might be similarly structured. It follows the children of a Bohemian British family whose mother writes children's fairy tales. She writes special stories for each child, and these are intertwined with the real lives of the children. Theoretically, this sounded like something I would like. Plus, it spans the late nineteenth century through WWI, so I thought it would fit in with the little Victorian kick I've been on lately.

Something just didn't click, though, and I found it really hard to get through this book. There's not one reason I can pinpoint for why I didn't like it. I did like the characters and the relationships between them were interesting enough, but the author includes so many historical details that they really started to weigh down the story (I admit that I skimmed through most of those passages during the final 100 pages). Some skimming also occurred during the story-within-a-story fairy tales, which I found to be dull. I think my biggest complaint is that the story just seemed slow to pick up. It was until around page 350 (yes, that's 350) that I felt like it finally caught my interest. Even after that point there were times when I wanted to give it up, and was only stopped by the thought of the time I'd invested so far.

And to add two more complaints to the list- I had to keep the book out overdue from the library to finish it and the 600+ page hardcover was so heavy that I had to prop it up with a pillow when I was reading it. I'm so glad that I finished it. Now on to better, though not necessarily bigger, things.

1 comment:

  1. This book is sitting unread on my bookshelf at the moment (like so many books I own--I will get through them all one day!). I have a feeling it will be a struggle for me to get through, as well. I really enjoyed Possession, but it was definitely slow-going in some parts. I hate when you spend a lot of time with a book only to find out that you don't like it so much after all and so reading any more of it turns out to be a chore (I'm a big believer in finishing what you started). At least you can say you've finished it--congratulations! That's something. :-)



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