I try to avoid disappointment when reading. That is probably an obvious thing to say but I am quite a careful reader and I know what I like and what I don’t like. If, for whatever reason, I end up reading something I’m fairly sure I won’t like then I have lower expectations and so no disappointment ensues. I think the only time I am disappointed is when I read a book by a writer I really like and it isn’t as good as I expect. It is probably still a lot better than a lot of other books I read but my expectations lead me to expect too much from it.
I first discovered Jeanette Winterson when I was at University and The Passion is one of my all time favourite books and I’d liked everything that she had written before. I couldn’t wait to read Lighthousekeeping. The excitement behind reading this book was made all the greater by the fact that as part of Off The Shelf, I went to hear her read an extract from the book. I was really expecting to love this book.
And it still contains all those things that Winterson is so good at;
the poetic imagery, the love of language and playing with language, the telling of and de-constructing of the stories we tell ourselves. But at the end I felt dissatisfied. It was even difficult to say exactly why or what the problem was. It just felt a little hollow, as if I had expected this book be a three course meal and to fill me up but I was left still feeling peckish.
It was too insubstantial for me. The language didn’t seem to lead anywhere and I was left with a feeling that I had greatly missed the point.
I had a similar feeling when I got to the end of A Sense of an Ending. Again, I love Julian Barnes and have read The History of the World in 10 and a half chapters a number of times, as well as a lot of his other novels. Again the story is well told, the narration is strong and the main character is convincing
but it didn’t seem to add up to a lot.
I’m sure I’m not the first person to say that I was both glad and not when this book won the Booker. Glad because it surprised me that Barnes had not won before with say Arthur and George, to name but one possibility. Not glad because I do not feel that this is Barnes’ best work by some stretch.
Perhaps my tastes are changing and both these authors are no longer what I really want to read. I hope not. I haven’t really returned to Jeanette Winterson after reading Lighthousekeeping which seems a little churlish considering how many of her books I have enjoyed. As for Barnes, I will have to wait and see what his next novel will be.
3 thoughts on “Day 13 – A book that disappointed you. Lighthousekeeping and The Sense of an Ending”
I hate more when the synopsis and the brief preview of a book spikes an interest in it and so you spend money as well as your time into reading it. Then somehow, somewhere halfway into submerging yourself into the characters, it totaly goes off its course and into some kind of unrational area far from what was originaly writen. Its effects are notable because it leaves you with this hollowed, unsatisfing, and quite frankly “Used Feeling”, inside. Worse than that is when you read a great book and it has all the bells and whistles to it and the end is crap (sorry for the colorful metaphor there). It is discribed as simular to the the way Sapranos ended there series with everyone utterly irratated.
On a secound note. I just came across your post here today and thought about mentioning Wattpad. I would not be surprised if you did because it has a lot of unpublished writers there. Some have gone on to get published from ther. It is a great site and I can say, that while ther are some really terrible writers ther, there are some unbelievable writers that leave me tearful and shaking with the question as to way they are not being awarde a Pultzer. If you have the time and interest in one of THE BEST STORIES (reference to the comment secetion of her story for proof of my statement) from an unpublished writer, read “Paying For His Mistakes” by Dadelik http://www.wattpad.com/story/752545-paying-for-his-mistakes-watty-awards-2012
The first 20 chapters will take you through many different emotions and the ending leaves you completely saticified and whole again. There are a few spelling errors but not many that it ruins the story (I’ve read a few of those that did).
I don’t often promote too many things, especially stories but this one was well writen and amazing. I wish you luck and maybe I’ll see you perhaps sharing your stories on Wattpad too. If you find the site interesting, I could also recommend a few other stories that are commendable as well.
Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have a look at it.
One more thing. I wanted to let you know that I am in no way related or employed by the website Wattpad or it’s affiliates in anyway. I just know that the site seems to aid writers in their stories and it seems rather remarkable. The site allows you to make covers for your stories, and there is an app for the ipad (which is how I discovered it) that allows people to read it on the go. There is also a voting system to allow readers to vote on your story and view how many people have read it. It is kind of like manga where you can upload chapter (called a “Part” in the Wattpad terms) however often you like. The biggest goody is at the end of the year they do a best of 20XX called the WATTY AWARDS, where I do believe they reward monetary funds to the winners. There are a few other sites, one being Quizilla but I don’t believe it has all the bells and whistles as Wattpad. If anything you should test the waters. There are a few that have published there only to then use it to advertise their published book. “The Boy Who Sneaks In My Bedroom Window” By Kristie Moseley is an example of a published writer who first had her story on Wattpad.