The Orange longlist was announced last week and I was sad to see it included several books that I had failed to complete. I thought I’d write a quick summary of the reasons I discarded each book so that you can see the issues I had and decide whether or not these problems would affect your reading enjoyment.
If you are a fan of great writing then I’m sure you will fall in love with the Orange longlist this year, but if you are like me and prefer books to have a strong narrative then I think you may be disappointed with the selection.
I have seen lots of people raving about this book and so was expecting to fall in love with it, but although I was initially impressed with the quality of the writing I quickly tired of the long descriptions and the excessive detail in every scene. There were many points when I was inwardly shouting “GET ON WITH IT!!”
The plot was so slow and meandering that I could barely see its existence and the central theme revolving around an old desk did nothing to excite me. At p105 I realised that I didn’t care about any of the characters and so I abandoned the book. I’m sure it has a clever ending, but I’m not willing to wade through another 200 pages to discover it. If you can cope without a plot then I’m sure you’ll love this one. It is definitely a book that divides opinion.
As with her earlier book, Brixton Beach, this one got off to a fantastic start. The mysterious murder of several farm animals had me gripped to my seat, but the plot quickly lost momentum and became a typical story about asylum seekers. I felt I’d read this sort of thing many times before and as the gentle nature of the prose failed to engage me I gave up at page 77.
I know that lots of people will love this one (especially fans of magical realism and adult fairy tales) but I’m afraid I had problems suspending my disbelief. The mixture of real life and myth didn’t work for me and the meandering plot stretched my tolerance too far. I gave up after 160 pages.
I’m afraid I can’t really explain why I didn’t finish this one. I just didn’t connect with the writing and found that my mind kept wandering from the page. I did skim read to the end, but I’m afraid that nothing managed to pull me back into the text.
Unlike all the other books I abandoned I immediately connected with the characters in this book. The first few chapters completely sucked me in, but then things started to go wrong. Or to be more precise, they failed to go right. This book contained some amazing observations of people in society, but unfortunately very little actually happened. I lost interest after I found myself reading about yet another relationship problem and gave up after about 70 pages.
From my experience of the longlist this year it is clear that the Orange judges prefer books with interesting literary styles and they are not looking a gripping plot. I am sad that I have had such a bad experience with the list so far, but hope I’ll find something to enjoy in the remaining books.
If you enjoy reading beautifully written books with a meandering/non-existent plot then I’m sure you’ll love all of them.
Are you enjoying the Orange longlist this year?
Or, are you craving a bit more action?