As much as I would love to enjoy all of the books that I pick up, that is sadly not the case. Although I liked the vast majority of the books that I read in 2020, some of them were definitely disappointing. Two of the three books mentioned below I didn’t even finish, seeing that I had no hope that they would grip me at any point. This is (obviously!) not an attack on any of the authors. I even liked all of the other books that I read in the past by one of them. It’s impossible for a book to impress all readers. Just because I didn’t cherish reading these books, it doesn’t mean that others won’t.
The main character of this novella, Edna Pontellier, is a married woman with two children who started to break with conventions after becoming infatuated with another man. Despite understanding the importance of this book as a work of early American feminism, I didn’t like it. The resolution is not satisfying and even seems to contradict the questions raised throughout. There aren’t also enough details, the characters are not fully fledged, and the writing style is for the most part dull.
Lillias Fraser by Hélia Correia
I was so eager to like Lillias Fraser by the Portuguese author Hélia Correia that I even tried to read it twice. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working for me, so I decided not to finish it for good after a second attempt. Partially set in Scotland in 1746, it has as main character Lillias, the daughter of Tom Fraser. Having had a vision of her father dying, she ran away during the battle of Culloden. She then managed to leave Scotland with the help of Anne MacIntosh.
The story of Lillias is interspersed with the narrator recalling a visit to Culloden in 1999, while at the same time presenting, almost as if they were a list, historical facts about the battle, its aftermath and Charles Stuart. This background information nearly doesn’t feel like part of the story. It is just forcefully thrown into the mix, without being blend into the plot, which makes this book infuriating.
Ashland & Vine by John Burnside
The narrator of this novel is a film student who had to knock on people’s doors at the request of her boyfriend, who wanted to make a kind of oral-history documentary. She was supposed to ask them a set of questions and take notes about their answers. Not many people opened the door, but an old woman, who lived in a very distinguishable house, did. Jean Culver realised that the narrator was hangover and invited her to come in and have a cup of tea. They chatted for a while and she promised her that, if she could stay sober for five days, she would tell her a story about her family.
The forth book that I picked up by John Burnside is written in a conversational style. For that reason, at first, it’s interesting to read not only about the narrator’s past (her father had died not long before and she was still grieving), but also about her relationship with her boyfriend. However, when Jean started telling her the story of her family, the book becomes awfully tedious. I didn’t feel any desire to finish it.
Have you read any of these books? Which were your most disappointing reads of 2020? Tell me in the comments!