11 July 2011

Book Review

My latest read was a book by Douglas Kennedy called The Moment.

I waited ages for him to publish another novel but I didn’t mind because I knew when it arrived it would have been worth the wait. How wrong can a girl be?

Some authors get books published at a rapid rate and I often wonder how they do it. Writing itself takes time, not to mention the umpteen edits, on top of which there’s a life to live.

I remember being surprised on hearing about the way Barbara Cartland wrote books … well, in truth, it was a secretarial team that did the work. I suppose she set the theme of each book and let them get on with it. It killed the illusion of hard grafting.

You know the old saying ‘when you’ve read one you’ve read them all’ … for sure reading Cartland’s ‘much the same’ novels didn’t have the same appeal as a book someone had spent time on. The image of a struggling author bent over a desk, quill pen in hand, crumpled paper on the floor and not a secretary in sight does more to attract me to purchase the end product.

Barbara Cartland is no longer with us but she was not alone in saturating the market with reading matter. Nora Roberts is one of many more. I love her work but do wonder how on earth she gets so much stuff finished and published in record time.

I wonder if the transition to e-Books will be the same?

Copy and paste has a lot going for it so writing a book on a computer must be quicker than using laborious handwriting and reams of paper but that doesn’t mean the final result will be any better.

Going back to the latest Douglas Kennedy: the disappointment was acute. Tediousness was such that I found myself skimming whole paragraphs to try and get on with the story. Dialogue was undertaken with outrageously long words that would drive a true conversationalist insane. I’m sure nobody speaks that way in the real world. The background was historic, based on life in Berlin in the days when the Wall still existed, but Kennedy included the seamy side and dwelled on it. I’m not averse to a bit of dodgy goings-on provided it’s done without causing offence but there is such a thing as overkill.

The main characters didn’t get together until almost the middle of the book which made me wonder if the story would ever gain pace. Mediocre sex scenes were loosely described, mainly a lot of tumbling in and out of bed which failed to stir the senses, if you know what I mean.

Basically the story is a recap of an American writer’s romance in Berlin. He was essentially there to get material for a forthcoming book. On his arrival lodgings were found in the home of an Irish drug addict cum artist who was totally gay and who used the F word like it was going out of fashion. I had no objection to the guy being gay but I did so dislike the excessive use of bad language. Okay I know it’s used as illustration but the English language is powerful enough to describe such scenarios without insulting the reader.

The man meets woman situation was hasty; she was moving in with him within days. Their conversations, when they weren’t devouring each other in bed, were extensively geared to readers of the Chambers Dictionary. One chapter was devoted to the female character’s past life, conversationally narrated with interminable descriptions and almost page length paragraphs that made me want to skip the lot. I have yet to meet anyone who can relate a life story without interruption. I was taught that a writer should aim for space in order to give the reader breathing space.

One thing in Kennedy’s favour is the amount of research that was done; a history lesson in itself if written as such.

I have studied the reviews. Whilst first time Kennedy readers thought it was good, his regular followers did not. I wish I’d read them before chancing my arm, though I would probably have ignored them on the grounds that I’d always liked the author so wouldn’t be disappointed in his work.

So, Mr Kennedy, I’m afraid it’s goodbye from me. It’s unlikely that I will wait for the next one.


  1. Hi Val. Sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy this one. It's such a disappointment when you've been eagerly awaiting an author's next work.

    On the subject of writing at speed, I used to be friends with Penny Jordan and was always amazed at how quickly she could write a story, or indeed how she'd manage to come up with so many stories. Everything she saw or heard might spark an idea and be noted for future use. As for the actual writing, I have to say she worked really hard with barely any time for socialising etc. It's certainly no 9-5 job.

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  3. I agree, Sharon, writing is no 9-5 job. When I wrote my novels I needed peace and quiet and plenty of time. Hubs was working then... now he's home I can't write so much.

  4. ack. sorry it was sucha disappointment..i hate it when authors put out a really good book and by the next you realise it was a fluke...

  5. It's so annoying when you're really looking forward to a new book by your favourite author and it disappoints. :(

  6. Excellent book review, Valerie!

    WOW...honestly, you could do this for a living!

    I know exactly what you mean about reading a book and having to force yourself to keep reading because the author uses LONG words. I much prefer a writer who gets to point; using as few words as possible.

    "Writing itself takes time, not to mention the umpteen edits, on top of which there’s a life to live."

    You said it, so it amazes me that some authors get their books published so quickly.

    "I wonder if the transition to e-Books will be the same?"

    Yes, I have looked into publishing an e-Book and it does sound much simplier. I'm totally shocked that paper books are still in existence, with the takeover of e-Books and Kindle.

    Have a glorious day, dear lady!

  7. A well written review Valerie. I feel your disappointment.

  8. Thanks for a well-argued and honest review - I always try to steer clear of books about writers who are writing books : I always find them a little self-obsessed.

  9. This would truly be disappointing! Better luck next time! LOL

  10. What a disappointment! I'm surprised you stuck with the book! Maybe you stayed with it because you liked his previous book. I find that if a book doesn't grab my interest by the first 50 or so pages, I just forget it. There are too many books out there just waiting to be read!

  11. I have a few authors that I will read even if the latest was not up to par....always hoping that the next will be back
    to their standard.

    Have you succumbed to the allure of an e reader ?
    I have the color Nook and I love it but I still cling to
    my hard copy collection.

  12. Ron, Ooooh thank you for your luverly comment. This is the first book review I've done... maybe I'll branch out into a new field...grins.

    Hub, thanks a lot.

    Alan,I didn't think of that. Maybe it was because the author was 'writing a book' that it became such a boring read.

    Pat, I stuck with it because of the actual storyline, I wanted to know how it ended - to which end the author achieved his aim! It was a painful journey though.

    Mona, thank you.

    Faye, no I have only got the iPhone and actual books. Thinking about a Kindle.....

  13. Yep, you know what you like and apparently it wasn't this one. I know that sometimes an author puts out a couple of successful writings and then they think they can't just throw another out and it is just not good. You are a great reviewer.

  14. Valerie, even your reviews teach me something. I love how you discuss the reader's perspective and expectations when picking up a book.

    It's a shame that this Kennedy book didn't live up to your expectations.

    I also wonder about the speed of books being produced by some authors. I don't like the factory feel of that kind of fiction.

  15. Aww it does happen at times that the writer or a person fails to deliver the second time round and the eager anticipation turnin into acute dissapointment well is killing.

  16. Larry, thank you. What you say is definitely the truth... I suppose it's called over-confident.

    Kelly, we're definitely of a kind with our likes and dislikes.


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