Tuesday, December 6, 2016
When it comes to parts of a book that are inconsequential to the progress of the story, I am a firm believer in skimming. Right now I am in the middle of Charlotte Bronte's Villette which I am enjoying immensely, but by golly does this author like to go off on tangents. They're tricky to spot, too, because they are usually hidden within a scene where our school teacher protagonist, Lucy, is at a museum or watching a play or even IN a play. And since she is our narrator we get detailed descriptions of not only what is going on in her life (this is perfectly good. I like Bronte's writing) but also what is going on in a painting she is gazing upon or a play she is watching or otherwise involved with (like sand in one's bathing suit, this is not so good.) Do you see how this could be a tad confusing? The reader is just getting to know all the relevant characters in the story of THIS book when all of a sudden we are introduced to an entire cast and crew of a stage production with all its pertinent story arcs and plot lines as well. I can't even tell you how long it took me to realize what was going on. Pages and pages went by before I stopped and went back to wherever it was I had *apparently* taken a wrong turn. Nothing was making sense anymore. None of these new people or scenes had anything to do with the previous hundred pages. Huh. It was no wrong turn, it was a stealthy tangent made to appear as part of the story I thought I was reading. I am half way through the book now and have noticed several of these stop-action-describe-at-length-another-story episodes and am fully prepared to skim any more that come my way. Please, authors, be brief when telling us about these diversions in your characters' lives. Your readers will thank you.