Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two Recent Misses

Two books abandoned in the past week:

Until I Find You by John Irving. This started really slowly. Jack (age 4) and his mother (the famous tattoo artist known as Daughter Alice) wander around Europe searching for Jack’s unreliable church-organist/tattoo-addicted father, William. By the time Jack and Alice arrive in Finland, always one step behind William, I was just really bored. Then I read this review in the Guardian and I was just plain weirded out. I have loved a lot of John Irving books, but not so many recently.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This got a lot of good press but I didn’t like it enough to stick with it. It’s a mystery novel starring the motherless 11-year-old science whiz/amateur sleuth Flavia de Luce and it’s set in the British countryside in 1950. Bradley’s writing is self-consciously eccentric; he adopts a kind of faux 1950’s detective story narration style with lots of breathless end-of-chapter revelations. Writing in the Guardian, reviewer Laura Wilson says “Flavia… is so precocious that, if she existed, every adult she met would be itching to slap her.” I wanted to slap her even though she doesn’t exist.


Serena said...

sorry to hear these didn't work for you.

Sarah Laurence said...

I prefer Irving's earlier work too (especially the Cider House Rules) and haven't read this latest one. Thanks for the warnings. I was disappointed by Kingsolver's latest after loving all her earlier novels.

Ruthiella said...

I liked "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie". It reminded me of the Enid Blyton books I used to read as a kid because it was so foreign and British, even though the author is Canadian.

I haven't read any Irving since "A Widow for One Year", which I liked, but not as much as "A Prayer for Owen Meany" and/or "The Cider House Rules".

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Re: Flavia de Luce - I stuck with it to the end but yes! annoying. I kept wanting her to get along better with her sisters.

Annie D. said...


Just found your blog and am really enjoying your reviews.
We seem to be every much in synch and I had to agree with your feelings about "Sweetness...". I also abandoned it mid-way through. I didn't like Flavia at all, was not intrigued by the mystery and was generally disappointed. I love England, English mysteries and coming-of-age stories so it should have been a good fit but it wasn't.

Post a Comment