Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Awakening of Miss Prim

The Awakening of Miss Prim: A NovelThe Awakening of Miss Prim: A Novel by Natalia Sanmartín Fenollera
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh dear. This was such a disappointment. I was hoping to read something that was rich with characters of depth, but instead I got a book full of caricatures. This book tries to be a modern Pride and Prejudice but the romance never blossoms, and the little spats that are meant to show us how these two characters are really meant for each other but can't see it, just make the main character seem sour. I also think this book has delusions of being something like The Alchemist (which I hated, by the way) - a philosophical treatise disguised as a novel - but it falls flat there, too. It wasn't quite as pretentious as The Alchemist, though, so I gave it two stars instead of one. But, this is not a very good novel. The villagers never seemed real, and Miss Prim's relationships with the people were wooden. Every interaction, every character was there to Make A Point - and it was obvious. I don't mind books with a moral or a purpose, but it should be inherent in the reading of the book, not broadcast on every page: "I'm making an important point here! Pay attention!" And the grand "awakening" that the title promises? It takes place off-screen, so to speak. We never see it happen!! One day she's leaving her employer, and the next she is in Italy, "fully awakened" and longing to go back to him. Leaving out the actual transformation really cheats the reader out of any sort of reward. I kept reading the book, because I wanted to see the "awakening" - and I guess I should have followed my instincts and stopped reading it. Life is too short to read bad fiction. And this is pretty bad. It tries to be a paean to classical learning, and "living the simple" life, but it just falls flat in all endeavors. Perhaps it would have been more enjoyable in its original language, as one always fears something is "lost in translation" as it were. But even were it not a translation, leaving out the "awakening" is still a rip-off of the reader. Don't waste your time on this book.

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