I’ve just finished reading Louise Doughty’s novel, Whatever You Love. It was amongst my Christmas presents (oh, I’m not even half-way through that To Be Read pile yet) and came on the recommendation of my lovely agent.
Well, what a recommendation. As I’ve mentioned before, what with small children and writing my own novel, my reading time has been spare and this was the first book of Louise Doughty’s that I’ve read. I truly loved it. I galloped through it in a way that is rare for me and all along the way saying ‘Wow!’ and ‘Yes!’ The kind of book where i go out and buy the entire back catalogue. *THAT* kind of book.
Honestly, I loved this book and wholeheartedly recommend you buy it.
I try to write reviews on Amazon for any book that really rings my bell. (I don’t write negative reviews because I rarely feel passionate enough about a book that just didn’t quite do it for me). Of course I read the other reviews up there while I’m on it, and was quite shocked by the polarity of the comments. As an author on the brink of receiving my own reviews, this sort of reception, especially for a book I would rate so highly, terrifies me. I’m sure I would take it to heart. What do you make of it all?
Amazon 1/2 star reviews:
“absolutely HATED this book”
“The story is drawn out unnecessarily”
“Faber & Faber, get your act together and use some decent copyeditors and proofreaders. The book was littered with spelling mistakes and typos”
“…she was waffling”
“…this novel unfortunately failed to reach me, as the grief the protagonist felt over the loss of her daughter seemed one-dimensional and failed to encourage any sympathy.”
i’m aghast; each to their own and all that, but I just can’t even begin to see where these comments came from. The book was tight and meticulous…wow. If I had been on the receiving end of these I would be reaching for…what? My husband probably. But then look at these:
Amazon 4/5 star reviews:
“I found these scenes almost unbearably moving in their honesty.”
“Wow. I didn’t expect this! This book is so powerful and insightful. I was blown away to be honest”
“ compulsive reading! I could not put it down”
“simply one of the best novels I have read in a long time”
“a genuinely captivating read”
“A book that tugs at the heart, draws tears and still manages to surprise right to the end.”
“…I could not put it down…”
“300 pages of insightful and expertly-crafted story-telling.”
Yes! Yes to all of these comments.
So what is it about a novel that can divide readers this way, and how are we, as writers, supposed to digest this kind of reception to our work?