Well, my first real Resolution book was a mistake. Not because it wasn’t a good book-although we’ll get to it in a minute–but because I didn’t notice until I was paying for it that it was a Richard & Judy Book Club choice for last year. Which sucks.
Richard & Judy are TV presenters over here. Essentially, I bought a Today Bookclub choice, or an Oprah book. Which as you know, was NOT what I wanted. It sold big, it wasn’t a first book…oh, what a mess.
Here’s what really pisses me off about this R&J Book Club thing. I read an article, which I bookmarked and of course the bookmark didn’t work and I can’t find it again so you’ll just have to take my word for it, where R&J talked about how pleased they were to have some “challenging” books on the list.
Fuck challenging. You’re doing a book club and aiming it at couch potatoes who don’t read. People who like to read don’t need you to tell them what to read–they go to bookstores and lookthemselves. So you’re trying to encourage people to read. To ENJOY reading. The way to do that isn’t to pick “challenging” books about issues or ideas. It’s to give them some good stories. Why not pick some genre fiction for your bookclubs, for once? Did Oprah ever do that? Did the Today show? Does anyone here know of a single romance, horror (not Stephen King), or fantasy novel EVER picked for a TV book club? Because I don’t.
All these clubs are doing is enforcing the idea that reading is hard. That you need someone to help you understand a book and encouragement to actually finish a book. That you can’t just pick a book because it sounds good, because the process is too confusing, so you need someone to tell you what’s good. There’s no pleasure in that. It doesn’t encourage people to read–the book club choices are usually put in displays near the front of the store. The zombified R & J or Oprah viewer walks into the bookstore (or the shelves at their local grocery store) and grabs the book their Host said they should read. Nothing encourages them to browse the shelves, to wander around. They go from display to checkout without even having to see those other books.
It makes me sick. If you want to encourage people to read, encourage them to read. Try something new, dammit.
Anyway, on to the book, quickly because I’m on my way out the door. I bought The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice. It’s out in paperback here but not yet in the states, though I’ve linked to Amazon US.
It’s not a bad book. I enjoyed it, I did. The story is a little…shall we say…facile. It’s a cliche romance plot, to be honest: guy wants girl back, so he bribes another girl to pretend to date him to make first girl jealous. He and second girl fall in love, of course.
But tht doesn’t make it bad. The setting, England just after WWII, made it interesting. The heroine, Penelope, has an obsession with pre-Elvis heartthrob Johnnie Ray that she shares with her friend Charlotte, a delightful character. All of the characters are at least interesting, and the story moves along quickly. (Hey, I never said I was good at writing reviews.)
But here’s what pissed me off. Did anyone even edit this book? The whole thing is littered with continuity goofs. And not just little ones. I mean things like the age of Penelope’s mother changing from 35 to 37 to 35 everal times. Penelope herself is nineteen, then seventeen, then almost twenty-one, then eighteen.
At the end of one chapter she tells us it was the next morning at breakfast, when Hero came down with a sleepy smile on his face, that she realized she might actually like him. The next chapter opens with her attempting to sneak out of the house before breakfast, gettig caught by the hero, and running off into the dawn (it wasn’t so dramatic as that) without eating anything. Uh…I thought they had breakfast? You said they did, three pages ago.
Another scene has Girl #1 showing up at Penelope’s house after a long walk. Penelope tells us the girl’s skirt is crumpled. The next page, in the same scene, the girl is wearing trousers.
Did nobody notice any of this stuff? Come ON, people! How could you not notice that? If a character’s eye color of the color of their shirt changes once, it doesn’t bother me. Accidents happen, though they shouldn’t. But when your people’s ages and circumstances change every other page, you’ve got a problem.
So…it wasn’t bad. I really loved the period setting. But there are better books out there.