Abandoned Books

Sadly, these Abandoned Books posts are becoming more and more frequent, as I begin novels which look wonderful but which I am so disappointed by that I cannot bear to continue reading.  The two books which I have recently started and read rather a lot of, but which I’ve not finished, are The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

'The Goose Girl' by Shannon Hale

‘The Goose Girl’ by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl had been on my wishlist for such a long time, and when I finally got my hands on a Kindle copy, and I was eager to begin.  I loved the fairytale structure of the novel, which was present from the very first page.  I did feel that it sadly dissipated after a while however, and when this happened, the entire story just fell apart for me.  It seemed as though I was constantly distanced from the characters, and as a result I was rather detached from the storyline as it unfolded.  I know that this is a much loved book for many people, but I really struggled to get into it.  If it had been a paperback copy which I’d read, I would have undoubtedly used Nancy Pearl’s fifty-page-rule which I stick to, and given up by that point.  As it was, I struggled through about half of it before I realised that it wasn’t going to appeal to me any more.

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
I did not even know of this book’s existence until I found myself randomly browsing through Netgalley.  I began it almost immediately because I very much enjoyed Setterfield’s debut, the marvellously Gothic The Thirteenth Tale, but I surprisingly did not make it to the end of the story.  The prologue – in which three young boys watch as their friend, William Bellman, kills a rook resting in a faraway tree – was relatively intriguing, but I found it to be another of those novels which slips into boredom and stolid prose as soon as the main body of text begins.  There was very little beauty or intrigue in the writing, as I remember there being in The Thirteenth Tale.  Despite this, I carried on reading because the novel is marketed as a ghost story (a genre which I am rather partial to), but I found that it did not pick up, even when I had read over a third of it.  Bellman and Black, in this reviewer’s eyes, is dull, underwhelming and ultimately disappointing.

5 thoughts on “Abandoned Books

  1. I haven’t read either of these books but I was intrigued by your comment how you struggled to continue. You say you couldn’t connect with the characters, is this because they had no failings or because they lacked substance?

    • Hi Maria. Sometimes when I’m reading, because the characters aren’t likeable to me (or because they lack substance, as you say), I cannot empathise with them at all. This lack of being able to connect with characters does mean that my enjoyment of a particular book wanes a little (or a lot, depending upon the characters in question). In the case of these books, both the Goose Girl and Bellman were not well developed enough at the outset, and felt very two-dimensional. I think it’s fair to say that both lacked substance, and that both books suffered in consequence, which was a real shame.

      • I don’t abandon easily, I try to be more selective at the outset to ensure I choose books I am going to enjoy, and therefore commit to finishing them.

        That said, I abandoned Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety after 400 pages not able to face another 400 and I also abandoned Tender is the Night about halfway through.

        I don’t really feel I abandon them because part of me thinks I might get back to them, its just that very occasionally I move onto another book at the same time and then suddenly remember I didn’t finish the other one.

        I prefer to struggle through though and try to understand what it was that didn’t work for me, because it is just me, every books has it’s audience of people who loved and admired it.

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