There seems to be a theme on the interwebs today: book abandonment.
Tanya at 52 Books or Bust had to give up on a book that she really wanted to love; over at Another Book Blog, we discussed how many pages you gave a book before ultimately walking away; and Lindsey from Reeder Reads did some scientific (twitter) research to find out what makes people break up with their books.
If you’ve been kicking around here for a while, you know that I love biographies about women, especially royal women. They are my cat nip. Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great, Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Devonshire, the six wives of Henry VIII, the five granddaughters of Queen Victoria – these ladies are my jam. I can’t get enough.
A couple of weeks ago I turned my attention to a biography of Lucrezia Borgia. I thought it would be right up my alley: beautiful, powerful family, some intrigue and scandal. This should have been my thing. And it just was not. I struggled to get through 150 pages and then realized that it wasn’t going to get any better and I needed to stop. Note to self: biographies of women from the 1400s will tell their story based on the men in their lives.
On the same library trip when I picked up the Borgia biography, I carried out Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion. The portrait that they used for the cover is beautiful and with a title like that, one that held all the promise of scandal…well I was pretty sure that this was going to be a delicious read.
It started out that way. Queen Anne’s father, James II, caused a scandal by marrying beneath him in secret and then when his new wife was pregnant with his child and they had to come clean about the secret marriage, he thought he could get out of it and denied she was his wife. So those were her parents.
This time the problem is not one of a lack of researchable materials. Anne Somerset has done an impeccably thorough job of putting together the life of Queen Anne. The problem is that Queen Anne was kind of an asshole. And not in a good way. She picked fights, she was sulky, she could barely walk before she was 40 because she was so fat, and she was not well educated. She was pregnant 17 times and none of her children survived past the age of 10. Actually only one of them even made it past the age of 2 or 3.
I’m also finding myself wandering off when I read because so much has to be explained about the time and the politics that were causing such upheaval. In trying to describe Queen Anne’s reign, we have to understand the political climates and ruling personalities in Spain, France and the Netherlands. Entire books can be written about the politics of any one of these nations – it’s too much.
I really want to finish this book but I’ve been working on it for days and I’m only just into the 200s of a 500+ page book. I would probably have fewer reservations about walking out on Queen Anne if I hadn’t already done it to Lucrezia Borgia a couple of weeks ago.
My bad book luck is apparently not quite through with me.
Would you keep going or walk away?