24 Festive Tasks: Door 13 – International Day for Tolerance, Task 2:
Name a redeeming trait of a book that you DNF’d this year.
This is an easy one for me this year:
One of the relatively few books I DNF’d in 2020 was Isabel Allende’s Stories of Eva Luna. And there’s nothing really wrong with this book; in fact, if I’d read it 10 or 20 years ago (like most of the other books by Allende I read), I’d probably have loved it; perhaps not quite as much as The House of the Spirits or (even more so) Of Love and Shadows, but conceivably almost as much. The writing is lovely, and some of the stories — especially the first ones — really got to me. Allende’s women characters are strong and independent and all make their world their own; regardless how many hardships they have to overcome (and even if, in individual cases, only death is the ultimate victory — but it is very much a victory nevertheless).
It just seemed after a while that, although the individual stories’ settings, plotlines, and characters couldn’t possibly have been any more diverse, Allende was nevertheless essentially telling the same story over and over again; namely, that of a woman either overcoming severe obstacles and emerging triumphant — while still somehow managing not to terminally bruise the egos of the men surrounding her –, or a woman forging ahead regardless of others and paying a bitter price in the end. And she already told that story better and in greater detail in The House of the Spirits and, even more so, Of Love and Shadows. So after a while, all the lovely storytelling and quixotic characters couldn’t prevent my growing boredom — so I ended up DNF’ing the book. But who knows, I may go back to it and read the rest later after all … and even if I don’t this is clearly very much an “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of a situation. Plenty of others love this book, and it’s easy to see why they do. I just may have come to it at the wrong time of my life.