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Archive for the ‘Emma Donoghue’ Category

I finally finished The Sealed Letter, a book I had set aside some time ago–and realized that my first impression–ICKY–was correct. There had been some nice reviews:  historical accuracy, interesting story, competent writing–what’s not to like? I had read the author’s previous book, Slammerkin, and had found it somewhat distasteful, though filled with fascinating historical detail, including fine descriptions of sewing techniques and corset manufacture. It concluded with a rather nasty and unexpected murder–disagreeable, rather. But The Sealed Letter seemed harmless enough, filled with scenes of Victorian London: the new underground being built; early days in the women’s rights movement; descriptions of interiors, fashions, etc–meaty, fascinating stuff!
Except, it turns out that there was one major ingredient missing, without which no book can please. There was not one iota of loving kindness, of enjoyment, of delight in our fellow man. EVERYONE in it is ignoble, even despicable. The author has no love for any of her creatures, and relentlessly exposes their weaknesses, their folly, their cruelties to one another–like picking at a scab. It is a bleak vision, and I found myself skipping through it faster and faster. As the last betrayal approached, I thought, I can’t go on with this. I clapped the book shut and left it in the pantry at work, with a sign saying ‘Free!”  It was gone this morning, and good luck to the poor soul who took it.

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