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Authors you wanted to like, but didnt

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sat May 29th, 2010, 9:13 pm

[quote=""Margaret""]Ditto for me on Henry James. The Turn of the Screw sounded wonderfully spooky, but when I read it, it seemed quite dry and slow-moving. Plus, I started the much-acclaimed novel about Henry James by Colm Toibin (The Master) and didn't manage to get very far in that, either.[/quote]

I had a hard time with Turn of the Screw as well, and that's coming from someone who loved the old movie. That was a spooky one.
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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sat May 29th, 2010, 11:27 pm

For me the first author who comes to mind as "I so wanted to love them but just couldn't" (I'm sure I'll think of others later!) is Sharon Kay Penman. A former co-worker of mine, who knew I loved the Norman/Conquest/early Plantagenet eras, and who was a HUGE fan of SKP, recommended "While Christ and His Saints Slept." I tried it, and I soooooo wanted to like it, but I just couldn't make it. I gave up about a third of the way through. I find SKP's writing just too long and too drawn out. I like thorough, detailed novels but hers just bored me completely. I've never tried anything else by her......

Ash
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Post by Ash » Sat May 29th, 2010, 11:38 pm

Well, I think you might be in the minority on this board (or maybe not; maybe the ones who love her books are too loud for anyone to get a word in edgewise!). I do understand tho; there are some books out there that by all rights I should love: the premise, the characters, the writing, but if it doesn't come together for me, if it just baffles and frustrates me to read, I can't do it.

Don't toss her off so quickly tho. The book you read should not have been the first one for you. There is quite a bit of history you really need to know before going in to it, and a she does go into great detail. Tho what I love about her writing is how she makes the history come alive through her characters. You might want to try her again, but start with her mysteries: Queen's Man I think is her first. Those will help you get a lay of the land. Or try Here Be Dragons, her first in the Welsh trilogy that is the one I tried first and fell in love. Or, there is Summe in Splendor, her first novel, about Richard the II. Or not; there are tons of books out there that are for you, and life is short :)

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sat May 29th, 2010, 11:53 pm

I am familiar with the Anarchy period, so I don't think that was the problem with this book for me -- that was why my co-worker recommended this particular book, is because I was reading something from that era at the time.

I can't exactly put my finger on what it was about SKP's writing that I didn't like -- it's been a few years,now. It's just that about a third of the way through I realized that I was struggling to stay with the book, forcing myself to read it, really, because I felt it was something I HAD TO love -- only I just didn't. And as you say, life is short......

I know I am in the minority, not only on this board but in general, because she is quite a popular author. But I have always been one to swim against the current...... ;)

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Telynor
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Post by Telynor » Sat May 29th, 2010, 11:55 pm

I agree with Ash here; WCaHSS is a bit daunting for the first time reader of Penman, and requires very big bites to get through. I'd start with the mysteries first, they're quick enough to enjoy easily and not to get bogged down into, or Here Be Dragons which is a splendid novel.

But don't feel bad about not liking a particular author -- there are plenty of wonderful books out there to enjoy and discover that are HF.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun May 30th, 2010, 4:07 am

I like some of SKP. Here be Dragons is, IMHO, her best. And the rest of the Welsh trilogy is wonderful.

I confess that the Plantagenet trilogy didn't grab me. WCaHSS is somewhere at the bottom of the DNF pile. I read all of Time and Chance, because it was a Book of the Month and I learn from other people's comments. But it was a slog. In retrospect, which is when I always find out what I really think about a book, it didn't catch me at all. I have never gotten around to picking up the Devil's Brood as a result.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sun May 30th, 2010, 6:54 am

A former co-worker of mine, who knew I loved the Norman/Conquest/early Plantagenet eras, and who was a HUGE fan of SKP, recommended "While Christ and His Saints Slept." I tried it, and I soooooo wanted to like it, but I just couldn't make it. I gave up about a third of the way through. I find SKP's writing just too long and too drawn out.
As others have said, this is not the best Penman to start with. I would not advise anyone to give up on Penman on the basis of this one novel. Try The Sunne in Splendour, which is much more briskly paced, with sympathetic characters all the way through, even though it's also a fairly long book.

Penman sticks very close to the historical record, and Stephen and Maude just are not engaging characters. They were both pig-headed, inept rulers, for different reasons, and I kept wanting to shake one or the other until their teeth rattled. But to write them differently would be to distort history, I think. Readers who give up halfway through Christ & Saints, though, will miss the best part, which begins when Maude's son Henry (the future Henry II) gets old enough to go rampaging around on his own. He's a marvelous character, shrewd, precocious and charming - and Eleanor of Aquitaine comes into the novel, too, quite near the end, and the two have some wonderful scenes.

The sequels to Christ & Saints are on my TBR for whenever I can clear some in my to-be-reviewed stack. I liked Henry and Eleanor so much that I'm eager to read the novels that focus especially on them.
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SGM
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Post by SGM » Sun May 30th, 2010, 10:12 am

[quote=""Misfit""]I had a hard time with Turn of the Screw as well, and that's coming from someone who loved the old movie. That was a spooky one.[/quote]

I read Turn of the Screw as part of a degree course and although I don't dislike the novella and I love the unreliable narrator, I really dislike the approach to studying early 20th century literature -- all that Freudian interpretation drives me nuts and spoils my enjoyment.

I remember being told by an English teacher that the way to read Scott was to skip the first two chapters and then the first two pages of the rest of the chapters - and it does help. But the thing about Scott is that he televises so well. Many many years ago the BBC did The Fortunes of Nigel, the title role played by a young Anthony Andrews and it worked very very well. But you would have to have reached my advanced years to remember it.

I confess to never having been able to get beyond the first chapter of Dostoyevski. I keep on going back to try -- but just can't manage it.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Sun May 30th, 2010, 11:33 am

As discussed on the relevant thread - Jane Austen! And I have to admit, that the way we were taught her at school probably has to take some of the blame.

George Orwell - think I've already mentioned 1980bore.....

Captain Corelli's Mandolin - over-hyped, over-rated.
Currently reading: "The Infirmary" by L J Ross

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Sun May 30th, 2010, 12:20 pm

Many an English teacher has destroyed Jane Austen and William Shakespeare.

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