I tried, I swear I did. J looked like it was going to become another H for me. I started a couple of books but they really weren’t to my taste. So I then cast about for recoemmendations. My excellent mother made the excellent suggestion that I read Jane Eyre.
Now, for some background on this, I have two degrees in English and the number of works of classic literature that I have NOT read is surprisingly legion. In mitigation I will point out that there is an awful lot of very fine, well-regarded literature out there in the English cannon. I don’t think I’ve been slacking. I’ve even started Jane Eyre several times, I’ve just never been about to get past that dreadful boarding school. I even tried watching the film a couple of years ago and fell at the same hurdle. It’s too dreary for words.
So, fabulous, here was a fine opportunity and a motive to fill this aching gap in my literary knowledge. I skipped the first few chapters to avoid the horrible school and settled down ready for things to become interesting.
Oh, how I wish they had! Why is this a classic? Whyever do people like it? Jane and Rochester are held up as icons of romance – they should be in therapy.
I struggled to see the appeal on any level. Was it the impenetrable prose that never feared to use twenty words where one would have sufficed? Perhaps it was Rochester’s breathtaking arrogance and superciliousness; his callous treatment of both the poor mad wife and Jane herself; or simply the fact that he spoke like no human being I’ve ever heard of. Maybe readers are seduced by Jane’s casual racism, or the fact that she has nothing good to say about anyone save herself. Or they are simply swept away by the romance of the most bizarre marriage proposal I’ve ever heard where the intended bride changes during the conversation.
I tried, I really did. But I abandoned it at 70% and consider I’ve done far more than my duty. I can’t wait to move on to my K book.
So, berate me, readers, and tell me (if you can) why Jane Eyre is a classic that deserves my respect!
Okay, that’s rather unkind, but there is a danger this post may turn into a slight rant.
My “B” book selection was BR Paulson’s Barely Alive. Now, one thing I’m loving about this challenge is that I’m finding all kinds of new and wonderful things. Barely Alive was pitched as a zombie romance – now, maybe that’s your go-to genre, but I was tickled to begin with by the idea that zombie romance is even a thing. How wonderfully diverse literature is growing, in topic if nothing else.
And actually, I thoroughly enjoyed Barely Alive. The zombie-ness was easy to suspend disbelief over (I know almost no science so I didn’t even try to pick holes in the virus that created the zombies) and the romance was low-key (appropriate when flesh-eating monsters are on the loose, I think) and convincing.
My beef came with the ending. There is a series, which is fine, but whether it’s a stand-alone book or a series in the vein of Bella Forrest with 37 books to work your way through, it is my absolute conviction that each book should tell its own story: beginning, middle and end.
I don’t even mind open endings where you have to exercise a bit of imagination about next steps for the characters as they head out of the pages and into the sunset, but Barely Alive cut off in the middle of the story with all plot arcs still underway and unresolved, which just left me grumpy, I’m sorry to say.
So am I Mrs Grumblepants, or am I right to be annoyed? Do you mind an unresolved story, or should the endings be tied up? Let me know in the comments.
Check back next week to see how I got on with my C book – Crystal Magic by Madeline Freeman.
It’s another year, so it’s time for another challenge. I’m no longer restricting myself to free books so my pool of choice is now vast. That’s great, but it can make it hard to decide what to read.
So I’ve decided to try an alphabet challenge. For as long as it takes to work my way through the alphabet I’m going to read books with titles from A- Z. At last count there were 26 letters in the English alphabet and I reckon a book a week is a conservative target for my reading speed, so I should be done by the end of June. There. That’s lots of targets tied up nice and tight.
This week, unsurprisingly (I’m such a rule follower), will be A. I picked a sub-genre (dystopian) and simply scrolled until I found something that began with an A and appealed to me. I ended up with Among Wolves. I’ve only read the start, but I’m gripped already. It opens with someone who’s about to be killed, and oh my do I want to find out how he wound up facing a gun!
Oh, and wouldn’t you know – now it’s not necessary, I caught it on a free offer!
I’ll keep you posted on the book and my challenge. It’s a way off yet, but I can foresee problems when I get to Q, X and Z – so if you know of any good books (preferably YA) with titles starting with those letters, please let me know in the comments!