epistolary

2:1 – Two Books I Didn’t Finish that weren’t Completely Awful

Posted on Updated on

I recently received, and tried to read, a couple of ARCs from Netgalley.

netgalley

One of these was James William Brown’s My Last Lament,

31146821

the other, Alyssa Maxwell’s A Pinch of Poison.

29857433

I was unable to finish either of them, not necessarily because they were bad – they just weren’t for me.

4me

James William Brown’s tale is epistolary, a format I generally dislike. You meet Aliki, a lamenter, which is basically a person who professionally laments. You can read about them in Classical Greek works – at the funeral, you’ve got your coffin, your pallbearers, and your grieving women, who cry/scratch their faces/pull out their hair (aka, lament). Aliki has been approached by one of those young, ambitious educational people, who are seeking a PhD and need juicy subject matter to force themselves to write their thesis about. This chick wants to know about lamenting, and has provided Aliki with a tape recorder, since initial meetings were not very forthcoming (and also, it’s a tape recorder, which must be wicked cheap these days since everyone can just record on their smart phones now). But Aliki doesn’t want to talk about lamenting. She wants to lament on behalf of herself, on behalf of her village, which she witnessed nearly torn asunder by the awful World War II.

radioshack_tape_recorder

That is, unfortunately, all that I know. I did not get very far in this novel, because while the tape recording makes sense (a woman who makes her living by vocalizing grief will, of course, choose an oral, rather than written, method, to vocalize her own), I just generally don’t like epistolary novels. And this one was no exception. I am a fan of the subject matter, and think that if you do not have the intense hatred for epistolary novels that I do, you should most definitely give it a try.

grievingcouple-2400px

Alyssa Maxwell’s story is a mystery, set in the early twentieth century, and is the second book of a series in which a “lady” named Phoebe and her “maid” Eva since mysteries and talk about the plight of women. Phoebe’s all “Oh no, I’m supposed to find a husband and take care of the house, but all I really want to do is put myself in danger, get my maid in trouble, and flirt poorly with this guy I will obviously get married to and take care of his house later.” Eva’s like “I’m totes fine with being a maid. I’m good at it. I fucking LOVE it. But really, secretly, I don’t love it, which is why I’m trying to Sherlock Holmes my way through some local murders with my mistress, hoping that this will somehow get me out of my servants role. Also, I’m going to pretend I don’t like this constable guy, even though I’m obviously totally into him and I’m going to marry him and take care of his house and lose my role of lady’s maid that way.” Also, there are annoying schoolgirls, the headmistress dies, and I don’t really care who committed the murder. A mediocre mystery. But some people like those.

retrowoman-2400px
Are YOU in the mood for a mediocre mystery?

Those are two books that I could not finish recently. What about you? Did you pick something up, hoping to love, or at least like, it, and become sorely disappointed? Let me know the last book you Could. Not. Finish. below!

Tape recorder image: J.smith at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons