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Beautiful, but tedious
on May 28, 2008
I read Gilead a while ago and loved it. Its language was beautiful and haunting, the story tender and heart-breaking. Housekeeping was different. It also has beautiful language, but that is where the similarities end. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I did not like about this novel and the answer finally came to me: it has no plot. It has no substance. It had immense potential to be great, but for me, it fell utterly flat. Let me be clear, the language is BEAUTIFUL. There are passages on practically every page that made me breathless with the beautiful and creative wordplay of Ms. Robinson, but it was not enough to push the narrative forward on its own. I understand the symbolism, the allusions, etc. of the novel, but I also want the plot to move the story along, not the descriptions of a place alone. I want characters that I come to care about to push the story onward, I want a climax, I want to care about what happens to them on the next page, and sadly, I did not.
One could say that the lack of any feeling the reader had for the characters was the author's way of getting the reader to feel the lack of love and caring that the girls experienced in their own family. If so, I get it, but I wanted to made to feel that, even if their own family didn't care about them, I did. But that is not what happened. I simply stopped caring.
It just felt to me that the author used the idea of these two girls and their awkward, off-beat, tragic family as a vehicle for her magnificent use of the English language. And magnificent though it was, the story got bogged down with all of that lavish description, and I wanted more than that. I wanted substance.