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I’ve had a run of stinkers… bad enough to dislike, but not interesting enough to devote a full review to.  So here’s a brief run-down of 3 books to avoid:

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu.  Written 25 years before Dracula, this novella presents a female vampire.. twice.  I’m not sure what the author was thinking when he spent half the novella describing one girl’s encounter with the vampire Carmilla, then the next half describing the vampire doing the exact same thing to another girl, so that the reader was subjected to the rather boring depiction twice, but there ya have it.

I picked it apart for my term paper on the treatment of women in Dracula and Carmilla, but it was so vague that almost any feasible claim could be made about it.


Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.  Victorian sensationalism, and another one for my British Lit class.  To be fair, this one wasn’t as bad as Carmilla, but it was still pretty lame.  George Talboys runs off on his wife, Helen, to make his fortune in Australia, and when he comes back he finds only her obituary.  Robert Audley is taken with his uncle’s lovely new wife, but her past is a mystery.  Oooh.. what has really happened to Helen and from where did Lady Audley spring?

While it is rather interesting to see how it plays out, it takes 450 pages to do it and.. well, not that much happens.  For sensationalism, it was sure boring.  However, we “simulated the Victorian reading experience” by reading it in chunks of 32 pages each Wednesday.  This might have added to the “omigod is this ever going to end and why is nothing happening” feeling.


Mister Pip by Llyod Jones.  I thought this YA novel would be a quick, easy, and interesting follow-up to Great Expectations. On some tropical island, war erupts and most of the white people flee, leaving the natives to fend for themselves.  One white man stays.. and he takes it upon himself to become schoolmaster, though he’s had no experience with it.  One of his primary lessons is reading aloud.. a chapter each day from Great Expectations, and Mister Pip chronicles the effects of war and words on these native children.

Except it was shoddily written and boring.  I know I’m supposed to love it because it depicts the power of storytelling and all that jazz, but I just could not finish it.  It was awful.  It’s gotten a lot of good reviews, though, so maybe it just wasn’t for me.

I’m hoping that this run of stinkers is over.  I’ve got some good stuff lined up.  I’ll be finishing East of Eden soon, Palimpsest (which we’ll see about..), then I’ve got Fingersmith and The White Tiger in the line-up, along with whatever next hefty classic falls off the shelf.