Does anyone else find that learning to write a novel can then make reading novels a double edged sword?
On one hand I’m in absolute admiration of the time and work that’s gone into the ‘work of art’ that I’m reading.
And on the other hand I’m really annoyed when I come across a ‘best seller’ that’s poorly constructed or written! You know, when you spot these glaringly obvious issues and you’re left thinking ‘hell! And I haven’t got published yet? Sheesh!’
That of course brings you to the whole ‘luck of the draw’ & ‘it only takes one’ conversation. But I’ll leave that for now.
I just read a book that my mum left me. My parents sold their house, put their belongings in storage and now travel the country in a ute and a fifth wheeler – pretty cool huh! This of course means they have precious little space and with my mum being an avid reader this can pose the occasional problem. Especially when she discovers a ‘new’ second-hand book store. So my shelves are getting slowly heavier with the books she’s read.
The book is called ‘A Vintage Affair’ by Isabel Wolff. It has recommendations from various newspapers as well as Cosmopolitan magazine and Marie Claire. That should have sufficed as a warning really. And yes this review is totally biased as I’ve never been a fan of gushy romances.
I love Diana Gabaldon’s series which certainly has romance but is creative and actiony enough for me to forgive her *grin*. And I really enjoy the relationship between Claire and Jamie – it frequently reminds me of myself and Glenn (by the way our 9 year anniversary today!! Woohoo!).
Back to the book. It center’s around Phoebe who’s just opened a vintage clothing shop. Elegant, proper vintage and I can’t fault her on the clothing descriptions, they made me drool (I’m a sewer when time & writing permits). Phoebe appears to have some big dark secret looming over her regarding the death of her best friend Emma.
I won’t go into more detail incase someone wants to read and please understand I’m not bagging the book at all, it’s a fluffy chick lit book that obviously appeals (best seller and all), but I wouldn’t have read it had it not been on my bookshelf.
The bits that annoyed me. Ms Wolff uses a lot of what is known as ‘chekhov’s gun’ devices – check out Lydia Kang’s site for more info on this! http://lydiakang.blogspot.com/2010/06/literary-devices-part-2-chekhovs-gun.html
Where she places a supposedly insignificant object, person, incident in the story and later on it comes back up. Like the kleptomaniac daughter of the rich guy that the lead character dates.
And that’s fine – except they’re all glaringly obvious, and they must be obvious cause I am one of the most oblivious people ever (ask my family and friends.. they can give you stories galore!) and I found it really frustrating! Like watching a B grade movie of what could be a good story.
The tense in the book occasionally runs out of sync which is disconcerting and the errors that I felt should have been picked up by an editor weren’t.. which would really annoy me had it been my book. I guess I felt let down by the story because it seemed very, very cliché, and if you’ve read or do read the book you’ll know what I mean. An okay read, relatively enjoyable for sure but I wanted more!
Whew glad I got that off my chest *lol*