Friday, April 23, 2010


Book cover courtesy

On April 9th, I posted about being asked to write a review for a new book, LOSING CHARLOTTE, by Heather Clay.

I was really excited to get this book and couldn't wait until I had time to sit down and read it.

Sadly, this is not the book for me.  I broke my 50 page rule for this book and I can't finish it.  What is the 50 page rule?  I used to suffer through books, finishing them just because I started them.  It got so that reading some books became a chore, so I invented my own 50 page rule.  If a book doesn't have me completely hooked in 50 pages, I put it down and put it out of my mind.  I figure that as fast as I read, I've not lost much time out of my life if I give a book 50 pages to draw me in.

I've been reading this book for well over two weeks now and am only on page 156.  I can't do it any more.  I'm not a professional reviewer; this is not my job, so I shouldn't feel compelled to force myself to read a book that is completely forgettable.

Now, remember that this is just my opinion.  Someone may pick this book up and love it; I did not.  Technically, the book is very well written, I just find that the characters are, for lack of a better word, icky.  I think that they've got some serious personality disorders and could benefit from some time with a shrink.

There are close to one hundred pages of backstory before the author ever gets to the "real" story.  I know that backstory is important, but if an author feels that they need so many pages of it, maybe they need to rethink their approach.  The book is supposed to be about how Charlotte's sister and widower come together to raise the twins she left behind when she died shortly after childbirth.  Over halfway through the book and we're finally getting to the point where Charlotte's sister is flying out to help with the twins.  I'm not sure how the author is going to explore the relationships that are touted on the book cover with less than half the book remaining.

One other thing...I was asked to review a horse book.  Horses mentioned in a book do not make it a "horse book".  So far, the horses have had nothing to do with the characters (except for the stallion that bit a groom's finger off - more backstory), nor with how the family heals following the death of the favored daughter, Charlotte.

I'm sorry, I just cannot recommend this book to any of my friends, but feel free to pick it up and give it a try yourselves.  You may like it - it just doesn't work for me.


Melissa said...

Hm. It's tempting to say "maybe it picks up later", but if it hasn't happened by 150 pages in, forget it. I have read books with 100 pages of backstory before the real story begins (I'm looking at you, JRR Tolkien and Neal Stephenson), but those were usually 600 page volumes or larger, I already knew the authors and trusted that they were going somewhere with it, and the backstory was genuinely fun to read. Sorry this one turned out to be a bummer.

Dreaming said...

I'd say that you gave the book more than a fair shake. I agree about your 50 page rule. There are just too many books out there to spend time slogging through something that just doesn't do it for you....not to say that it might not be a great book for someone else.
Thanks for your honest report!

GunDiva said...

I really wanted to like this book. I started it and put it down, thinking that it was my rotten mood influencing my feeling of it. So I waited until I was in a much better mood to pick it up again and it just didn't work for me.

My sister will probably love it; it's just the difference in our reading preferences.

Bridget said...

Sorry to hear it wasn't for you! Maybe send it to your sister? Thanks for giving it a try--and as a fellow horsewoman (as is Heather Clay! Her family owns Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, home of Big Brown) I agree it's not a "horse book" in that it's not about horses so much as about families--but I would say there are elements of the horse world in it that would definitely fly over the head of someone not as familiar.
I hope your sister likes it! That's the beauty of books...we all have our favorites.

AareneX said...

I'm a librarian, and am frequently asked to review books (either professionally or just casually) especially if there's a horse on the front cover.

My rule (which I stole from hometown librarian Nancy Pearl): read as many pages as years old you are. I am therefore obligated to read 46 pages, since my 46th birthday was two weeks ago. If the book hasn't got my attention by then, I move on. Life is too short!

So, just know that you are in good company and are making industry-acceptable choices! >g<

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Aha! I found your review here! Yay!

And it sounds quite a bit like mine actually. lol!

I agree about your comment that some people might like it if they get excited over all the tangled drama that dysfunctional families are all about, but I don't. Life is too short for all that, which is why we moved across the country far away from my family.

I did suffer through the entire book, which is something I would ahve never done if I had been asked to do a book review.In hindsight that determination taught me a few things about myself and about also about authors and styles of writing. So it wasn't all lost time.

But quite honestly it was probably the worst book I have ever read.

You can check out my own book review over at my Laughing Orca Ranch blog if you like.