Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Two DNFs - Child of the Northern Spring and Vanishing

Vanishing and Other Stories
by Deborah Willis
Copyright 2010 - Harper Perennial
288 pages

You know how sometimes you open a book, read a little and think, "This is a pretty skilled writer," but then you don't feel compelled to read on? And, every time you look at the book and think, "I really ought to pick that up," you get such a strong feeling of resentment that you continue to skitter around it until you finally realize that it's just not the book for you? Such was the case with Vanishing. I recognized the author's skill, but I read more than half of the book and then picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down for months.

I just could not talk myself into continuing. Talent aside, there's a bleakness to the stories in Vanishing that I believe is the source of my discomfort. I like a glimmer of hope in my reading and felt hope was lacking. I would not say, "Avoid this book." There is no doubt Willis' writing has "emotional range and depth" as Alice Munro says in the cover quote. But, her stories are a little too haunting for me. I'd recommend Vanishing to readers who like literary stories but don't mind stories that may leave you feeling a touch sad.

Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley
Copyright 2010 - Sourcebooks Landmark
Orig. Publ'd 1987
476 pages

I adore the lovely cover at left and desired to fall in love with Child of the Northern Spring, the first in the Guinevere Trilogy by Persia Woolley. Sadly, that did not occur. Woolley's writing is lovely and flows well, so it would have been a quick read, had I continued. But, by page 50 I was becoming frustrated with the lack of action.

I gave the book another 50 pages, eagerly anticipating . . . something, anything. I'm a plot lover; I like a lot of things to happen and character-driven books just don't do it for me. Child of the Northern Spring is definitely focused on characters and setting. In spite of the lovely writing, I gave up at page 107 because there just wasn't enough going on to keep me engaged. I would recommend Child of the Northern Spring to people who like reading retellings of the classic King Arthur tale and prefer character-driven novels. I don't plan to give the book a second try.

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  1. Sometimes we just don't connect with some books...

    I think the Vanishing book sounds good even if I am not big on sad stories but I'll have to keep that one in mind.

  2. Iliana,

    So true. I used to not write about DNF books because I didn't want to give people a bad impression, but it's interesting . . . like your interest in Vanishing, the description alone is often enough to grab people. Let me know if you do read Vanishing. I've read mostly positive reviews about it.


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