Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mortal Love, by Elizabeth Hand

I came across this as I was searching for more magical realism. The blurb implied a lush tale of immortal love among poets, painters, and their muse.

But I didn’t like it, for a lot of different reason. First, it was non-linear, and I’ve complained in this blog before about my problems with non-linear story-telling. The first four chapters each focused on a different character, in a different time period, and a different place, and I got tired of wondering how these characters related to one another, and whether or not they would ever come together. I think this kind of approach can work if there is some amount of information that connects the situations. But to vary the character set, the time frame, and the location was too much. There was in each chapter some information about a mysterious woman, but it wasn’t enough to unite them into a coherent narrative, as far as I was concerned. I didn't like any of the characters or settings enough to stick with it long enought to find out.

And the writing was too flowery! All those adjectives, and so much atmosphere, you could choke on it. And I didn’t LIKE the characters. They were whiney and annoying, and despite their superficial differences, really all the same. But the cover was pretty. There, I’ve said something good.

Here is an interesting review that makes the book sound more linear than it is, but which also does a nice job of identifying the problems. (Notice this reviewer also assigns letter grades.)


Jenny Davidson said...

Hi--I just came here via Maxine's blog Petrona--and of course had to click on the link for this review, which I actually very much agree with--I had read a few others of hers and liked them quite a bit, but the combination of floweriness & hard-to-followness made it definitely not for me.

Becky Holmes said...

Hi Jenny -- should I try other books by Elizabeth Hand? Are they easier to follow?

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