For example: "To a host, who told him that if he insisted on starting at once, he would have to wait an hour at the station: 'I would rather wait anywhere but here.'"
|Gwen Raverat's Uncle Frank,|
who lived up to his name
But the one that gave me pause was Uncle Frank's comment on a book he has found too dull to finish: "I have tried to read it by repeated charges at the point of the bayonet, but I have failed.'
Which made me think about the books I've attempted—if not exactly at the point of the bayonet, at least on the heels of repeated recommendations and avid praise—and have failed to finish. Three came to mind quickly, and I would bet that all three are much-beloved by at least some of you charming readers.
Now, as I make a concerted effort not to be negative in my discussions of books and writers here (especially since, in a good many cases, no one is reading them anyway, so snarky comments about them would be rather like beating a dead horse), I can't quite bring myself to tell you the three novels I have in mind, all of which are mentioned by name in my Overwhelming List. But I actually did once admit my dislike of the most famous—more or less a verified classic, a perennial bestseller, and the source of an equally classic and popular film adaptation—though my admission is buried deep in one of my early posts here...
The other two, however, are a source of some shame for me. Not one but both of them, if I'm not mistaken, have been designated by Nicola Beauman as novels she wishes Persephone could have reprinted (is this a hint, perhaps? are they in print from another publisher? hmmm...), and one at least is so perfectly right up my street, on the surface, that I find it somewhat astonishing that three attempts to read it have all failed—the last with a note in my database that begins "Life is just too short."
No, no, I am too ashamed to admit which novels they are. But perhaps if you, kindly readers, were to share your own guilt-ridden failures to enjoy works you feel you "should" love? Perhaps that would help me come to terms with my own readerly shortcomings?