Posted by: Natalie | June 28, 2011

Its not giving up really. Honest!

Ok, so I jumped ship. I apologise Mr Fowles but I find your work, at this precise moment in time and space, unreadable. But I am not taking the blame in this abandoning, nope. Not one bit. I was all for forging ahead and forcing my way through to some form of bitter end. Then I want to see Christie at weekend (and her lovely husband and son, should probably not ignore their existence!). Anyhoo, I am always interested in Christie’s take on the world of books; having grown up in America her perception on literature is always fascinating – of all my friends I whole heartedly believe she has the widest reading range of us all, there is no genre of book the girl has not touched and she never fails to be able to offer intelligent, interesting and intriguing opinions on the vast majority of books. Despite having an eighteen month old son who is running every adult ragged, and an all consuming job that only a mad woman (sorry, love) could do, Christie is yet another book addict and crams every nook, cranny and crevice with finds and favourites. So, I thought if I was ever going to get some honest advice on Fowles, it would be hers.

She has not read The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Less than useful you would think. I was desperately hoping that she would say, “Of course its amazing, persevere, you’ll love it in the end – one of my favourites!” but instead she gave me an even bigger, better and so much wiser piece of advice –

There are too many books out there just waiting to be read to waste time on one with which we cannot get along.

And with this, Fowles was cast aside, guilt free (well, almost) and with an element of glee – how very true. As every angle of life keeps reiterating with terrifying regularity, it is all too short, there are too many lists to be completed as it is, too much experience to absorb – spending over a month on less than 100 pages of a novel that makes me fall into a coma, is neither seizing the day nor living life to the full. Even though a fully (again, almost) competent adult with a semi-cultivated decision-making ability, on occasions I just need to be told that it’s ok to let things go; its ok to not like a book based on only a few chapters. I have to admit I got rather excited! I could pick a new book to read!!!! Instantly we set to looking through her shelves, pondering options, discussing Atwood (a fellow fan), being introduced to new concepts (Jasper Fford’s The Eyre Affair may be being purchased on my next charity shop) and names, jointly sharing our most recent friends and foes of the author world – in between Christie being dragged around in circles by her son that is.

I adore these kind of conversations, I feel like I learn so much about a person by listening to their reading habits and their choices. I never class myself as being particularly well read, I can read well, but that is an entirely different kettle of fish. However, on occasions, if I am honest, these conversations with people less known to me lead me to be a little judgemental. I have mentally confined certain writers to dusty attics or abandoned basements (or thrown from cliffs as may occur with John Fowles) and judge their readers likewise. Also, how one may choose a book or come across it causes me to assign personality traits or flaws to a reader. Completely unfair I realise, but I can’t help thinking there may be a little something in my half baked theories – aren’t we all dormant philosophers?! I shall not share my nonsense at this juncture for fear of offending, as would never be my intention.

I do wonder though if this is why I get myself a little tied in knots over leaving a story unfinished. Do other people around me form these harsh judgemental stereotypes over not being able to complete a book by Thomas Hardy? Am I frowned upon for not having read an entire Shakespeare play beyond high school necessity? Do people perceive me to have ideas above my station because I have not read Jordan’s autobiography? I somehow doubt it. My assertions based on reading habits are are by no means lasting and certainly do not alter how I actually think on a friend or colleague, I just like to look into people and books provide an easy window. For me I suspect the best option would be to keep the curtains wide open, allow people to peer in and make their assumptions, then not care a jot. Life is too short after all to worry about such imperfections. So, if I want to read trash and nonsense rather than a literary work of art, then damn it! That’s my choice and I shall embrace it!

So bye, bye Mr Fowles, I shall see you again one day I am sure but for now I shall be reading, The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga.



  1. It is so true – there is so much to read that ever painful and boring page read could equate to a contrastingly brilliant page that you never have the time to enjoy! Good on Christie for putting it in perspective!

    Do let me know what you think of White Tiger – I won’t give you my opinion until you’re done but would certainly be interested!

    • I am actually further into this book in two nights than I ever could with the previous read – that may tell you something. I am quite enjoying it at the moment, still hoping its going somewhere! The voice puts me in mind of “Life of Pi”, very different book I know but there is something very familiar about it. I only hope I am not putting the high expectations of Pi unduly onto this one because of this. If nothing else, I am finding it a relatively easy read which is refreshing after force feeding myself rock for the past month! Nxxx

  2. Every*

  3. Hmmm – like Lauren, I’m looking forward to hearing your views on The White Tiger. It was our second book club book and met with widely different reactions.

    I’ll be interested to hear your take on Jasper Fforde too – I know Steve didn’t get on with The Eyre Affair when I loaned them to him, but I LOVE them!

    As for Hardy and Fowles, well, The French Lieutenant’s Woman I will confess to having enjoyed, but Hardy I cannot abide! And my nemesis is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whom everyone assures me I’ll love, but I just can’t get on with.

    After forcing my way through two books I did NOT enjoy I took great pleasure in picking out two books I’m actually excited about at the weekend. I often wonder why I plough on, but think books are where my stubborn streak emerges…

    Oh, and I used to judge anyone who came into Waterstones to buy anything by Katie Price. I often judge a person by their bookshelves. Sue me. 😀


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