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~Andrea~

Andrea's reading in 2019

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On 21/07/2019 at 9:40 PM, Hayley said:

Yes I would definitely say there are more plot driven novels out there. Although there are, of course, some very good ones mixed in with the one star type. Out of curiosity, what are your favourite 'not much happens' books? 

 

The classice example has to be Virginia Woolf. I'd also say that quite a lot of the classics have little actually happening (especially given the size of the book in some cases!); in crime, I think Simenon is a perfect example.

 

The phrase 'not much happens' is probably a bit simplistic and distracting - what I'm really contrasting is the plot-driven novel versus the character-driven novel.  The latter can have things 'happen', but much of what does derives as much as or more from character as from any outside agency.  The former tend to be about the plot as devised by the author, and the characters are often fairly irrelevant.  So, in much of Jane Austen (for instance) things do happen - if not quite to the same extent or as frenetically as in most plot-driven novels - but they happen primarily because of the interaction between and the development of the characters.  Even in something like a Dickens, where there is plenty going on usually, it's fundamentally the same. Even when the plot is dictated by an outside agency, the focus is on how it affects and changes the characters.  In a Patterson, Child or any mumber of (mainly) thrillers etc, plot is all, and for me they are thus usually as dull as ditchwater.

 

Edited by willoyd

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On 21/07/2019 at 11:18 AM, willoyd said:

Reading your review reminds me that I really need to return to Anne Tyler. I've read a couple of her books, and both have been pretty much as you describe.  No, nothing much happens (actually, in one it did, but it didn't feel like that), but that's not the point.  She's so into character examination and development, that that is where the focus lies, and the plot is pretty much about how or why people turn out the way they do.  Compulsively readable and thought-provoking.

Yes very readable. I'll definitely read her again.

 

On 21/07/2019 at 11:31 AM, Hayley said:

I've heard of Anne Tyler but never read anything by her. Usually 'not much happens' would be a pretty damning review for a book but this sounds fascinating! 

There was defintely a plot (of sorts) and I wanted to know what happened next, but it was more of a gently unfolding story that came out of the characters. I'd definitely recommend, Hayley.

 

On 24/07/2019 at 10:08 PM, willoyd said:

 

The phrase 'not much happens' is probably a bit simplistic and distracting - what I'm really contrasting is the plot-driven novel versus the character-driven novel.  The latter can have things 'happen', but much of what does derives as much as or more from character as from any outside agency.  The former tend to be about the plot as devised by the author, and the characters are often fairly irrelevant.  So, in much of Jane Austen (for instance) things do happen - if not quite to the same extent or as frenetically as in most plot-driven novels - but they happen primarily because of the interaction between and the development of the characters.  Even in something like a Dickens, where there is plenty going on usually, it's fundamentally the same. Even when the plot is dictated by an outside agency, the focus is on how it affects and changes the characters.  In a Patterson, Child or any mumber of (mainly) thrillers etc, plot is all, and for me they are thus usually as dull as ditchwater.

 

 

Yes it's all about character vs plot. For me reading is as much about spending time with interesting people as much as finding out what happens next. And I agree on the thrillers front. The characters are often very one-dimensional which makes those kind of books pretty forgettable for me.

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Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb

 

Nevare Burvelle, a failed cadet of the military Academy, who enlisted in Gernia as a cemetery soldier under a different name has been accused of unspeakable crimes and forced to flee. The magic of the Specks which he has been trying to resist has finally taken him over, and he is compelled to work with the forest tribes and go against his own people.

 

The final installment of this somewhat tedious trilogy is another tome of nearly 800 pages. Again, as I probably said with the first two, I've no idea why it needed to be so long. Perhaps she was under some kind of contractual obligation in book length, who knows? Anyway I would have been quite happy had this book been two or three hundred pages shorter. A case in point is when the story seemed to wrap up quite nicely (and I was very ready for it to end at that point) but no, there was another hundred pages, where she introduced a new problem/adventure for the protagonist to face which felt completely tacked on, and all this followed by a lot of long-winded wrapping up of things that felt very unnecessary and overdone. One of the golden rules of writing is "arrive late, leave early", and I wish the author had paid some heed to that, as the story really outstayed its welcome. And again the pacing was quite slow, with lots of detail of the mundane and every day and not enough action to liven things up.

 

That said, I suppose something kept me reading. I was invested enough to see it through to the end, and being a Robin Hobb fan I'm glad I ploughed through it all, just to have a sense of completion of the Hobb canon. It's a shame though really, as there was potential for something decent here, it was just Far. Too. Long.

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Shame this one was a bit disappointing and too long! I enjoyed reading your review :).

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Ooh I'm being spoiled again by winning the July giveaway. A beautiful looking copy of A Christmas Carol which I shall enjoy later in the year and some very posh looking tea, which as a loose leaf girl I shall definitely enjoy! Thank you @Hayley :)

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