Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks - DNF

One of my pet peeves is authors who insist on writing in a dialect that is not their own. (The Help, I'm looking at you) Yes, there are times when a brief appearance of another language or dialect is warranted, even welcomed, in the context of a greater story. I'm fine with that. But for an entire book, published in 2002, to be written as if it were an unearthed document from the 1660s is just plain annoying.

Sam had left me the cottage and the sheepfold behind, but they had nicked his stowe the day they brought his body out of the mine. I told him that day that they need not wait to nick it again, for three weeks, six weeks, or nine, I could neither shore his fallen walls nor was I in purse to have another do it. pg34

At age five and twenty, Elinor Mompellion had the fragile beauty of a child. She was all pale and pearly, her hair a fine, fair nimbus around skin so sheer that you could see the veins pulsing at her temples. Even her eyes were pale, a white-washed blue like a winter sky. pg35

Not only do these sentences sound contrived (it takes place in the 1600s, okay I get it, you don't have to beat me over the head with it) but the similes and metaphors give me a rash.

Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote some beautiful prose because they lived it. Charles Dickens and The Bronte sisters wrote some beautiful Victorian literature because they lived it. Authors should write well, write what they know, and leave some of the imagination up to the reader.


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Oh, no! I enjoyed this book and once I got into the flow of it, I was fine with the way it was written and got much more into the story. I will say that I prefer People of the Book that she wrote around the same time much more, though. I did also enjoy The Help, but I listened to that as an audio production and thought the narrators playing each role were phenomenal. I don't mind it when an author writes in a different dialect - if it feels right, then I'm good with it.

Trish said...

I'm sure The Help does much better as an audiobook as dialect is a heard thing rather than a written thing. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie!

Tracy said...

I enjoyed this book, though it is pretty harrowing in places. I know what you mean about dialect, but the thing about this book that I really didn't like was, yes, the ending! That really was contrived. I preferred it to People of the Book, and March, but that's partly because the headmistress of my old Primary School was from Eyam, and she used to tell us about the plague village, so I was interested to read a fiction (loosely) based on it.

Trish said...

I'm keeping this book on my shelf so I can give it another try some other time. I think the subject is interesting enough to warrant another attempt.