Let me just say this first: I don't want to have to write about books that I read and disliked, especially to the depth that I disliked one of the books in today's review.
First up: the classic tale of a provincial village in George Eliot's Middlemarch.
Middlemarch was supposed to be my cure for Austenitis. Having read all six of the Austen novels, the full-length completed ones at least, I had been on the hunt for some more Victorian era novels relating the truth of life in a bygone era. After much internet searching and recommendation hunting, I found myself with a list of books that began with this tome.
My copy of the novel (if you can call an 800 page book that) was borrowed from the library. The first thing I noticed was that Eliot's voice was very different from that of Austen. Whereas the love of my literary life was refreshing, clear, and satirical, Eliot, the bane of the literary life, was monotonous, preachy, and stuffy. Although there were some lines that really hit home with me, the vast majority of the two books I managed to complete out of the eight that make up Middlemarch, the narrative on the whole was rather dry.
I think part of the problem may lie with the fact that the novel itself took place in a time earlier than I was used to reading within. There were a number of references that I could not comprehend, and so they fell useless on my modern eyes.
The other problem may be that I may have been expecting a little too much. Once you've read Austen, you can never go back. No one can satisfy like she can. There's just enough of everything in Austen. You have humour, satire, plot, romance, the whole shabang.
Something else that may have lead to a non-completion is my complete lack of empathy or sympathy for the various characters presented. Dorothea is entirely too full of "notions" and religious piety for me to even consider empathizing or sympathizing with. Mr. Casaubon is apparently unavailable for any emotional connection. The Vincy family is utterly abominable in their attitude of lavish abandonment.
The characters themselves are very real, providing excellent reflections of normal human beings, who contain within their own very limited and narrow experiences a variety of good and bad qualities, manners, and accomplishments.
The problem, however, lies with the manner in which they are presented to the reader. There was nothing in the writing or tone of voice that endeared the characters to me. I cared little to nothing about how things would end up for Dorothea, Celia, Mr. Casaubon, Mr. Ladislaw, or any of the Vincy's. I don't like to read a book in which I like the characters but I don't care whether they live or die because the writing is bland and boring.
Call me evil for saying it, but that's how I really felt.
Having said all that, I can assure you that if you were going to pick a book from this post to read, make sure it's Middlemarch and not Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes. At least George Eliot provided her characters with some common sense, intelligence, and interests beyond their own selfish needs.
It's very, very, very difficult for me to be irritated beyond words by a book. (Great alliteration in that sentence there, don't you think?) I have yet to find a book that has grabbed my attention for how absolutely, criminally, undeniably horrible the characters are. It's also nearly impossible for me to anticipate completing such a piece of stupendous scribbles. And yet, complete something so despicable and disgusting I did.
Never in my life has a book disappointed me so much. Never before has a book actually made me feel depressed about the lot of women in this era. Never before have I wanted to ban a person from writing a book ever again. Never before have I actually ever wanted to burn a book, or use it for my dog's litter box.
I despise Bergdorf Blondes. I despise it so much that I don't want to waste sentences describing the things that made me want to vomit the words right back out of my brain. So, for the first time and hopefully the last, I present you, oh readers, with a book review in point form.
- Character development is nil. The selfish, superficial, super-rich female characters show no development or maturity from beginning to end.
- The book (is it even legal to call such rubbish a book?) is all about clothing, jewelry, shoes, and the cream of the luxury filled life.
- There is absolutely nothing real about the characters, the plot, or anything really.
- Celebration of all that is wrong in society (e.g. taking sleeping pills to sleep because you can afford it and it's cool to do so).
- Propagates a demeaning image of women as money obsessed, boy obsessed, luxury obsessed vulture-like creatures who have no original thoughts or feelings.
- The main character is immature and naive (e.g. she calls having sex "going to Brazil" or "going to Latin America").
- A 10 year old could read this book, and if she did, she would probably never amount to anything in her life since the book supports and propagates the idea that money is everything, and who you're with, who you're wearing, and who sees you is the most important thing.
But no. Nothing like that happened. Nothing could save the hours I spent killing my neurons with this piece of trash. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, dear reader. None whatsoever.
The future for women is bleak indeed, what, with these kinds of books and authors lying around. The mothers of women's suffrage must be turning in their graves.