A near hit and a miss

Regular readers will know that the first two months of my year of books from Heywood Hill bookshop in Mayfair were absolute hits (see here and here). They were so good I was beginning to think they were living in my head. I wondered if they could keep it up. On the whole I would say yes, they did keep it up. However…

This choice was a winner because Heywood found something that is both in my comfort zone in setting, tone, and writing style. And they get kudos for giving me a ghost story, something I would never pick up on my own. I wanted them to challenge my usual reading choices. So no faults for their choice. Where it falls down is that the book just isn’t that good. I kind of liked it at first but then I started to have problems with the one dimensionality of the characters and a story that I grew to care less and less about as each page passed.


This choice was a winner because it is exactly the kind of book I would love. But. I read it when it first came out and hated it because I thought Hill set up a narrative framework and then proceeded to ignore it and just blather about whatever bookish topic she wanted to blather about. And don’t even get me started on her thoughts on book bloggers. What a dip.


8 thoughts on “A near hit and a miss

  1. BookerTalk January 26, 2018 / 6:23 pm

    Oh dear. I just read Howard’s End is on the Landing and didnt mind at all that she wasn’t just writing about what books she read and what she thought about them. I don’t agree with her views on many topics but I found the sections where she rediscovers books from her childhood were touching


  2. Liz Dexter January 28, 2018 / 1:01 am

    I’m worrying about Howards End as she annoyed me being rude about people who organise their books last time and now this thing about book bloggers …. will probably pick up a copy second hand. A shame about the not-good and already-read book, although still good choices. Can you tell them what you’ve read already to avoid the second issue?


  3. Jasey January 29, 2018 / 5:23 am

    What does Hill say about book bloggers?


    • Thomas January 31, 2018 / 10:51 am

      This is what I wrote about it at the time:
      “And since book-related gossip and chatter on the Internet is pernicious and is full of fragmented, small pieces of pre-digested ready-meals, Hill decides to publish 236 pages of fragmented, small pieces of pre-digested book-related gossip and chatter. Give them what they want, make your money, but somehow act like you are above it all. (Reminds me a bit of Jonathan Franzen’s bullshit moment in the Oprah book club. You are decidedly crass, and pedestrian, but I will take your money anyway, if only to teach you all a lesson.)”


  4. Anda January 29, 2018 / 10:46 am

    You might like to try Faulks on Fiction by Sebastion Faulks instead of Howards End is on the Landing. I liked it a whole lot better, both for its content and for it not being so self-centered as the Susan Hill book.


  5. Simon T January 30, 2018 / 10:08 am

    I’ll give them kudos for HEiotL because, by rights, anybody who likes books should love it ;)


    • Thomas January 30, 2018 / 3:06 pm

      I did give them credit for that one. By all accounts I should love it.


  6. Susan in TX February 21, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    I still remember your disdain for HEIOTL. I remember your review being very entertaining, even though I myself enjoyed the book. I will say, and you already know this, stay away from her most recent follow up, Jacob’s Room is Full of Books. You would like it even less, I think. I enjoyed it – probably because I was predisposed to enjoy it – but, it wasn’t as good as HEIOTL.


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