CottonTimer invited me to join a new group (also on Facebook) called Sunday Salon, where you spend your weekend reading and then write a post about it. Since I've been wanting to rant about the book I read on the plane to the States, I figured now would be a good time.
I picked up An Uncommon Reader at the airport bookshop, paying full price for it. It's a slim book, and I finished it in a couple of hours—I hardly got my money's worth. But I had a bigger complaint. The book was awkwardly written, with the author, Alan Bennet, several times switching tense. Past tense, present tense, whatever, just stick to one. I can handle POV shifts, jerking me out of someone's head, but don't jerk me out of my time zone. Not even when I'm on a plane, whizzing across lines of longitude as if they're threads in an Aubusson.
And surely Alan Bennett had time to smooth out some of the more overblown sentences. There is only so much time in one's life, after all, for disentangling clauses.
The book is about the Queen, yes, that Queen, who one day discovers the travelling library on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and begins reading. Fine; great premise, that's why I bought the book. But the book left me wanting more, and not just more pages.
I'd have liked to have seem more showing, less telling—the number one trick you learn at Novel Writers' School. I'd also have liked more character development, yet that might be asking too much from a 120-page novella. Mostly, I'd have liked more humor—while An Uncommon Reader was not without its gentle chuckles, the premise called out for some real ROFL moments. (Rolling on the Airplane Aisle Laughing? Or even Awakening My Seatmate with Unbridled Chuckling?)
Ironically, a book about the joys of reading turned out to be a frustrating wallbanger. I couldn't toss the book against the wall, like I wanted to, since I was seated in an airplane and didn't want to risk having the authorities alerted and the plane diverted to Newfoundland. Instead I gave it to my mother-in-law.
Fortunately, the mailman just delivered two new books: A Dog Abroad, by Bruce Fogle and Return to Tuscany, by Ciancarlo and Katie Caldesi. Next weekend looks more promising already.