Do you ever give up on a book that you start? I used to never, ever. I would plow my way through until the bitter end, even if I was
bored to tears not engaged, and I would derive some feeling of satisfaction that I had finished that darned book; that I had not been defeated. I would devote the hours it would take to finish it, even if I ended up skipping over passages here and there, and even if the entire meaning didn’t sink in because of my lazy reading of the text.
Of course, that was in the time before I had kids, and before my time was spread as thin as it is now. Now reading time is luxury time and I value this time more than I ever did in the past. This means that over the last few years, I have come to terms with the idea of not finishing a book occasionally, though I will still only abandon the book if it is really dragging me down. Even if it’s just all right, I will keep going.
The book I have just abandoned is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, and it won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for fiction. It is a critically acclaimed book. Other smart people I know liked this book (Hi Mom! Hi Laurie! Hi Melissa!), but I just cannot get through it. I have no idea what was in the last 50 pages that I read, and I have no interest in taking the time to go back to try to figure it out. I mean no criticism to the author or the book, but this one is just not for me.
A synopsis from Wikipedia:
Set in the 1520s and 1530s, Wolf Hall is a fictionalised biography concerning the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex in the court of Henry VIII of England. Born to a lower-class family of no position or name, Cromwell first became the right-hand of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, and then, after Wolsey’s fall from grace, the chief minister to Henry VIII. In that role, he oversaw the break with Rome, the dissolution of the monasteries, and Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. He was widely hated in his lifetime, and historical and literary accounts in the subsequent centuries have not been kind to Cromwell; in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, for example, he is portrayed as the calculating, unprincipled opposite of Thomas More’s honour and rectitude.
It sounds good, doesn’t it? Those of you who like The Tudors (which I have never watched) may love this book.
Now don’t get me wrong when I say this because I like a good bathtub book as much as the next gal, but I’m no slouch when it comes to reading. I have read and loved other Booker-winning novels, and I often look up this link http://www.themanbookerprize.com/prize/archive before heading to the library. I should be smart enough to like this book, but in this case, I’m not.
So I feel kind of guilty and dumb that I won’t be finishing Wolf Hall. However, I am going to forgive myself and let this go, because seriously, I have a lot of other things to do. My decision became final when I realized that I had not done any reading in two whole weeks, which is unheard of for me. I just never felt like picking this one up when I had some time to spare.
So, now that I have that off my chest, on to the next book. It’s either going to be Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, or White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I have read both of these authors before, and I’m quite sure that I can make it to the end of both of these…even if it kills me.