19 thoughts on “Seven duds for seven dustbins: More books to avoid

  1. Thanks for this. Agree “Last Ditch” is weird and pretty awful. Not sure about “Gentian Hill” being a repeat of TLWH though. It’s not a good book, but the plot doesn’t seem that similar to TLWH to me?


  2. Initial dismay when I saw Elizabeth Goudge among the authors listed was dispelled when I saw that you’ve singled out Gentian Hill! I remember it as the only one of her books that I struggled to get through and never read again. It was discovering The Dean’s Watch aged ten at boarding school that started me on years of admiration for her novels, flowery style and all; the ‘book’ which my best friend and I wrote together over the next three years was a queasy mixture of Elizabeth Goudge, Enid Blyton and Noel Streatfeild …


  3. I remember thinking Cage Me a Peacock very sophisticated when I was 15, but I’m sure I’d agree with you now if I could ever bear to find it again. Elizabeth Goudge can be dire, though I loved her Damerosehay books (again as a teenager). But, outwith your list, the bummer of purest ray serene is undoubtedly Rex Stout’s Under the Andes. Don’t go to any trouble to find it, just take my word.

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  4. Hahaha — god, I love To Say Nothing of the Dog, easily one of my favourite books of the last three or four years and probably the book I’ve recommended most in that time, but I can understand it not being to everyone’s taste; it was touch-and-go for a bit when I read it, and I nearly quit myself during the protracted trip down the river (only there to shoe-horn in that enitrely needless and, I couldn’t agree more, self-indulgent Jerome K. Jerome reference…) but I stuck it out and loved what came after — one of only three or four books I’ve ever read that needed to be about 1000 pages longer!

    I shall take your description of the Ngaoi Marsh as “a really badly-conceived party without gin to oil the wheels” and use that from now on, though, as that explains all Marsh’s writing as far as I’m concerned. Here’s hoping 2017 is kinder to you — perhaps only Six Duds for Six Skips this time next year (though, let’s be honest, the odd dud can be quite an enjoyable thing when it allows one ot let off some steam…).

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  5. Thank you for this post and also for the previous one. I think I read the Ngaio Marsh you’ve mentioned back when it first came out and thought it was a sad coda to a fairly excellent series (although I know she went on to write a couple of more books). I also appreciate your comment on The Waves, which I enjoyed because I read it in a course dedicated to Virginia Woolf but recalled thinking that without the guiding apercus of the professor I might not have made it to page two.

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  6. Delightful stuff. The only one I’ve read is the Connie Willis and I have no impressive memories of it. I wrote about it back when I was pretty new to blogging and a little scared to let lose on books I didn’t like so was much kinder than I would be today. I remember it just being an incomprehensible, meandering mess.

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  7. I was unimpressed by “To Say Nothing of the Dog” as well, even though I like “‘Three Men in a Boat”‘. I am not familiar with the others, but the Ngaio Marsh book sounds like she had the problem that most writers of long running book series run into, of trying to keep books up to date, and whether or not to let their characters age realistically.


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