I’m in probably the worst position an avid reader can be in right now…
I am not enjoying my current read.
If you follow along with me on Twitter or Goodreads, you’ll know that I started reading Margaret Atwood’s Victorian-esque novel Alias Grace last week. My choice to read this book was completely random: I had just finished Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and I didn’t have a clue what book I would read next; I saw Alias Grace sitting on my bookshelf and impulsively picked it up, placing it in my work bag to begin reading on the bus the next day. Alias Grace did NOT come highly recommend, however; my brother eagerly gave me the book after completing his Canadian Literature class this past year. He hadn’t actually read it because it seemed “too long and boring”, so he thought he would just dump it on me for my blog. Not exactly a stellar review, eh?
I have to preface everything I am about to say by admitting that Canadian Literature is not my favourite. I’m pretty sure I’ve already mentioned this on the blog before (I’ve actually been writing this thing for so long that I sometimes forget what I’ve told you all – imagine that!), but my mark in my Canadian Literature class from second year university is a black spot on my academic record that I will never recover from. Okay, I actually got a good mark by most people’s standards – it was a B+ if you must know – but considering that it is the ONE B amongst all the other A’s I achieved in 5 years of study (including my Master’s), I think it’s fair for me to be a little bit upset about it. (*Overachiever problems, clearly!) I also stand by the fact that I deserved a higher mark because the essays I wrote for that class were among my favourite in my entire academic career. I’m convinced the TA had something against me and my writing style, but I have yet to prove this – it was also very gratifying to take classes with this same TA during my Master’s and realize that my opinions were in fact just as valid as his. Anyway, I digress, no need to get more enraged by this. The point is, although I love the short stories of Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant, and I have enjoyed a Canadian read here and there, it’s not my absolute favourite style of literature.
Now, in theory, that has nothing at all to do with Alias Grace, which does take place in Ontario but which is set in the 19th century. I mean, we all know that is a time period I am very interested in, and it should be fascinating to read about how my favourite era played out in my own country. It should be fascinating, but, if I’m honest, I’m not finding the story all that fascinating just yet. Actually, no, I shouldn’t say that – the plot itself is very cool: the story investigates the life of Grace Marks, a housekeeper turned murderess who kills her employer and fellow housekeeper in cold blood. Yeah, I think that sounds intriguing too!
However, here’s another startling admission: I am not a fan of Margaret Atwood’s writing. I have read many of her works, starting with The Handmaid’s Tale in high school, then onto some of her short stories in the aforementioned Canadian Literature class, and even including her novel Cat’s Eye which I read randomly one summer. So I’m experienced with Atwood’s writing style. The issue is that I don’t particularly like it – her stories are interesting enough, but her writing seems so dry to me, and Alias Grace is especially written in a sort of catalogue or documentary style. I’m really struggling to get through it for that reason. It feels a lot like homework to read this novel, which is not exactly what I was looking for in a summer read.
The problem is, everyone seems to be excited about me reading this novel. Everyone and their mother is liking my Goodreads status or Tweets about it, so obviously enough people think it is a good book. I’m just not there yet, and the thing is almost 600 pages, so I’m hoping my opinion changes really soon.
Here’s the question: keep plugging away or give up now while I still can? I’ve never been a quitter, so I think I need to give this one a more solid effort!
Wish me luck!
Girl with a Green Heart