Loving the first book that we read by an author is a fabulous experience, regardless if they are at the beginning of their writing career or if they already have various books published. The downside is that it can make us be much harsher when reading a second book by them. I think this happened to me a few times. I loved the first books that I read by certain authors so much that I ended up being much severe when judging my following reads by them.
Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
The first book that I read by Daphne du Maurier was the magnificent Rebecca, an enthralling, enigmatic and atmospheric novel, which is full of fleshed out characters. After marrying Maxim de Winter, the unnamed narrator moved with him to his family home, Manderley. She already felt inferior to his first wife, Rebecca, before, but living there only increased her insecurities and her sense of inaptitude.
After loving Rebecca, I was eager to continue exploring Du Maurier’s work. I soon picked up My Cousin Rachel. Philip, the narrator of the story, was raised by his older cousin Ambrose, who married Rachel while in Italy. Not long after his marriage, he died. Although Philip harboured suspicions about the role of his cousin Rachel in Ambrose’s death, he ended up falling in love with her. There’s a mysterious ambience throughout, as readers are skilfully led to have conflicting feelings about the characters. I was not fully convinced by how Philip fell so head over heels with Rachel, though. Despite being certain that I didn’t like it nowhere near as much as Rebecca, I feel like I was a bit too harsh on my review.
The Miniaturist, The Muse and The Confession by Jessie Burton
The only reason why I decided to buy The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton’s debut novel, was because I fell in love with the cover. I was pleasantly surprised when I adored the words within. After marrying Johannes Brandt, Nella, the main character, moved in to a house full of secrets. This is an engaging and heart-breaking page-turner full of beautiful language and unforgettable characters.
I loved Burton’s second novel as much as the first. The Muse is a gripping and atmospheric book, which delves into racism and explores the unequal treatment of women. A mysterious painting connects two time periods and the lives of two women, Odelle Bastien and Olive Schloss, who have to face various challenges.
After loving not only one, but two novels by Jessie Burton, I had extremely high expectations for The Confession. Unfortunately, it is nowhere near as engaging as the other two. Although it promises to solve a mystery, it’s not that enigmatic. It is mainly a character-focused novel about motherhood and its predicaments. In order to discover what happened to her mother, who disappeared before she was 1 year old, Rose decides to go look for Constance Holden, the last person to see her. In my review, I ended up focusing more on what had disappointed me than on the book’s various virtues, as I couldn’t help but compare it to Burton’s previous novels.
Livro and Cemitério de Pianos (The Piano Cemetery) by José Luís Peixoto
I started exploring Peixoto’s work with Livro. Set partly in the 1960s, it focuses on the Portuguese emigration to France through the story of a specific family. The characters are vivid and the narrative is engrossing.
I had really high hopes when I started reading Cemitério de Pianos, The Piano Cemetery in the English translation. But the structure of this novel, despite being interesting, made the story slightly confusing. Since I was not immediately gripped, as it had happened with Livro, I became annoyed and didn’t fully appreciate what the author was trying to do. If I read this book, based on the life of the athlete Francisco Lázaro, again, I would probably like it more. It has two narrators, a father and a son, who tell the story of their family.
Have you ever judged a book too harshly because you loved the previous one you read by the same author? Tell me in the comments!