I just recently read a book which left me feeling, well, betrayed. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald, was on special offer from Kindle and I downloaded it without knowing anything more than it was by a well regarded English author and was about a woman opening a bookshop in a small Sussex town.
Great, I thought. A lovely quiet comfort read. And so it began – plucky spinster, quaint surroundings, eccentric characters including one overbearing wealthy woman who is determined to have the old house the plucky spinster has purchased for her book shop made into an Arts Centre.
The writing was beautiful and I read along happily, confident that the book would jog along to a pleasant ending with, who knows, maybe a quiet little romance for the plucky spinster.
But it didn’t. And I felt betrayed. It was as if the fluffy kitten I'd been cuddling had suddenly given me a nasty scratch.
So I looked at the book’s reviews (which I should have done before) and realized that the fault was mine. Had I known a bit more about the book and the author before I read, I wouldn't have been left with this feeling.
The book is billed as a tragi-comedy – and perhaps the ending – which is sad but not tragic – is far more true to life its own self than the tidy (and trite) happy ending I was expecting.
And the writing, as I said before, is beautiful – I’ll read the book again. And look for more of Fitzgerald’s work as well. But next time, I’ll know what not to expect.
How about you? Have you ever felt betrayed by a book? My husband felt betrayed by Cold Mountain . . . and I'm sure I had readers feeling betrayed by the Little Sylvie story in Signs in the Blood.
What's your experience?