I ask you: What would a book club be without mixed reviews? And what fun would it be? If everyone liked the same things, there would be no originality, no such thing as “difference in opinion.” I know Hannah voiced some hesitation about me reading this book, mostly because she loves it so much and has been singing its praises to me since we began this book expedition. Well, Hannah is a big girl. I know she can handle the harsh truth of the matter; I did not enjoy this book. Not even a little. Not even one chapter.
I knew it was going to be a real doozie after telling people I was reading it and everyone made this face that was some sort of fond grimace, a sort of “hurts so good” expression. But talk about Debbie-downer. This was, without competition, the most depressing thing I have ever read. Everything about it, every line of every chapter, tugs at the reader’s heart-strings until it feels like you absolutely cannot handle another let down, until the next one inevitably comes along. The story is generally about the Tallis family but the focus is on the tumultuous relationship between the eldest daughter, Cecelia, and the housekeeper’s son, Robbie Turner. Unbelievable misfortune befalls Robbie, at the hands of Cecelia’s younger sister, Briony (who, in my opinion, is one of the most despicable characters I have ever encountered in all my many years), and readers follow Cecelia and Robbie on their separate journeys to find each other, and normalcy, again.
The love story is quite compelling and the writing is captivating and emotive in a way that makes me understand why this book has bewitched so many. Ian McEwan writes the story in such a way that makes it difficult for readers not to join in the feelings of betrayal and despair with the characters. It is beautifully written, a fact which I will never deny, but the only outcome of such descriptive eloquence is to leave readers feeling miserable. Every time I thought about picking up where I left off, I inwardly begged myself to find something else to do. My room has not been this clean since Devil in the White City, which isn’t a good sign if you recall my opinions of it. I just don’t see the point. Why would anyone desire to write a book that left me miserable and resentful about the time wasted on this book? Why would anyone desire to read a book that leaves no hope for the “love conquers all” mentality and desire for retribution? It left me only with the notion that, for some unfortunate few, life just sucks.
I’m probably hurting Hannah’s feelings as she reads this and building up some sort of literary animosity inside her heart, but I cannot do myself the injustice of being dishonest. We’ve been through a lot. I imagine we will weather this storm as well. My favorite “book” is The Iliad, so I know better than most what it is like to have pretty much everyone hate your favorite book. It doesn’t matter to me. I know it is the most fantastic epic ever written. Haters gonna hate. So, I’m sorry Hannah. I am a hater. And I’m just gonna hate.
Next we’re reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and we’ll read that through the rest of the month. Then we’ll get all wrapped up in the Halloween season by reading horror novels all October. I suggest you join us! Check out the reading calendars to see the schedule.