TSS: My First DNF of 2011
I am, in general, a compulsive finisher. I have a hard time giving up on a book without finishing it, even when I’m not enjoying it overmuch. I have an even harder time doing this when it’s a book that I have an obligation to review – in this case, a LibraryThing Early Reviewers book that I finally decided to abandon this past week.
But the truth of the matter is, I’m not doing myself any favors by forcing myself to keep slogging away at a book I don’t want to be reading. All of those evenings when I have to force myself to sit down and try to read the book, or when I can’t bring myself to pick up my current read and retreat into watching Buffy DVDs instead… all of that time could be reclaimed with actual enjoyable reading.
And honestly, I’m not doing the book any favors by reading it when I don’t want to, either. The more I have to force myself to read it, the more crankily disposed towards it I’m going to be by the time I’m done. If I’ve given it a fair shot and I’m still not interested, better just to give it up. But, since I still have to review it:
Length: 268 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 08 January 2011
Finished: Nope! (Abandoned it on 11 January 2011.)
Where did it come from? LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Why do I have it? I’ve been reading more French historical fiction lately, and idea of an expedition to reclaim Napoleon’s body twenty years post-mortem sounded interesting.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 06 December 2010.
Summary: In 1840, an expedition was launched to reclaim the body of Napoleon from his island prison of St. Helena and return it to France. This expedition was headed up by the young aristocrat Philippe de Rohan-Chabot. Philippe leaves behind in Paris his love Amelia Curial, a mercurial young woman who scorns marriage and only wants adventure… adventure that she thinks she may have found in the middle-aged author Henry Beyle, better known to his readers as Stendhal.
Review: It took me four nights of reading to get to page 118 of 268 (glacially slow for me) before I decided to give this book up. At almost the halfway point of a book, I feel like I should be interested in the characters, or the story, or something, but in the case of The Emperor’s Body, I just couldn’t find anything that made me want to pick it up again after I’d set it down. The characters were dull and none of them were particularly likeable, which made caring about their “love” “triangle” difficult, and while the expedition had the potential to be interesting, it was just getting started by the time I quit. There was also some stuff with a Stendhal being trailed by spies – I think? – but it wasn’t explained very clearly and only barely affected the action of the story.
Wanting to be sure I wasn’t missing anything brilliant, I skipped ahead and skimmed the last 35 pages or so. And it turns out: I wasn’t. The characters and their relationships were just as dull, and had barely progressed in their relationships since the beginning of the story. Maybe I missed the best 100 pages of the book in the middle, there, but somehow I doubt it. The writing’s not awful or anything; in fact there were some nicely phrased musings amidst the philosophical bits of the first half of the novel. It’s just that I didn’t care to wade through any more of a book I wasn’t interested in to find them. 1.5 out of 5 stars.
Other Reviews: Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: Dawn had broken, a pale, cold, comfortless dawn.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- p. 31: “His sexual experience so far was limited to actresses from the Opéra, and one witty grisette from the Bal des Artistes a year ago, who as the dawn broke following a night of gently drunken revelry suddenly went slack in his arms, and offered no resistance when he began to kiss her shoulders.” – a young french workingwoman.
- p. 62: “The body itself was clothed in the uniform of colonel of chasseurs.” – one of a body of cavalry or infantry troops equipped and trained for rapid movement.
What about you, readers? Given up on any not-so-good books lately?
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