I know this post has a negative bent, and I promise to post about my favorite books of the year soon, but I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t let you know about my biggest literary letdowns this year. Without further ado:
1. Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
I expected big things from this book–a story based on the legendary Pride and Prejudice and written by one of the most heralded mystery writers? It was terrible. While it was fun to find out what the P&P characters did for six years after the close of the original story, the first third of this book was a re-telling of the entire P&P story and the middle third was the trial of the character suspected in this book’s murder, which consisted of the same questions being answered by every witness. There was no investigator, no clues, and no trying to figure out the mystery, because the culprit ends up confessing out of nowhere, and the last third of the book is an explanation of the murder over and over and over by different characters. PASS.
2. The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan
I bought this book for my Kindle at full price and now it’s $1.24. That being said, I have no opinion one way or the other on this book. Some beautiful thoughts and phrasing but I can’t figure out if it was supposed to give me insight into Marilyn or dogs…
3. Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now–As Told By Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It by Craig Taylor
Being a Britophile, I was so excited to read this book. I got halfway through and gave up, mostly because every single sitting left me terribly depressed. A collection of interviews with London’s inhabitants, in the vein of Studs Terkel, I thought it would provide unique insight into the city’s personality, but according to this book, living in London is a miserable experience, period. Apparently the writer couldn’t find ONE person in the entire city that was happy to be there. Maybe I just didn’t want to hear the message, but life is too short to read a book that is so incredibly disenchanting.
4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
This was a re-read. I decided to give it another shot because I hated it in high school. I thought with the passage of years and the experience of my own intimate relationships, I might bring a greater understanding to the book. Nope. Still hate every single character and I’m still glad they all end up dead.
5. Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
I was a huge fan of Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, and I was hoping this book would be as entertaining. It has been lauded by literary critics, but I just found it to be one ridiculously incoherent descriptive paragraph or inane analogy after another. I’ve never been fan of literary writers who feel the need to spend two pages describing a leafy tree or a woman’s black hair, and this book took what should have been an entertaining tale and drew out the plot with every fourth-grade English composition exercise in a grade school primer.
6. Off the Menu by Stacy Ballis
This is the first book I’ve read by Ballis and I wanted to love it because she is an FOJ (Friend of Jen Lancaster) and she talks to me on Twitter. It was a pleasant enough rom-com, but there was no tension, no plot twists, no climax. It forecast its happy ending on page one and didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately. However, there is a biting criticism of Rocco DiSpirito’s facelift, so that alone was worth it.
7. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte
This book came to a very disappointing end. After hundreds of pages of murder mystery, the author decided to wrap everything up in 10 pages. I’m actually not sure who committed the murders or why, and I am completely baffled by the detective’s companion–was she human? The devil? A fallen angel? God? And if so, why did she just disappear–the main character left her waiting in a car and that’s the last we hear of her. A complete waste of valuable reading time.
And there you have it. Read at your own risk.