The Paying Guests – trying again

payingThe Paying Guests
by Sarah Waters
2014 /  576 pages
read by Juliet Stevenson 21h 26m
Rating-   4  / romance (lesbian)

Okay I’m trying again – this book got so many incredibly good good reviews and some other reading group members,  whose opinions I value,  love it.   What’s wrong with my reading?   The group members admitted it was slow starting – okay fine – I got more than 200 pages  (6 hours) last time and then they said just a little further. –  Yeah?

** If you’re intent on reading this book I highly recommend you get a text copy of some sort so you can skim because it’s mostly long and boring.  The writing is not worth pausing for and the characters are not likable (at least I didn’t find them so).  The only interesting thing about this romance is that the main characters are lesbian and the sex is graphic – that’s what takes up the entire first half.  (Theme – lesbians have sex and feelings? – gasp.)

Okay so now I’m at 9h 45m and the couple wants to move in together – ho hum –  what if this were a teenage girl and her slightly older boyfriend?  –  Bo-ring.  The obsession is kind of interesting but not really – that’s what goes on with teens.  And they end up in difficulties with parents, etc.  Ho-hum.

I’ll bet a whole number of folks skimmed the first half – that’s all I can think.  I can’t skim because I’m listening,  but I walk in and out of the room while it’s playing and I’m typing this at while Lillian is “imagining.”   I talked to my mom on the phone – about 10 minutes – nothing has changed –  basic romance using two women instead of a couple of love-struck teens hiding from parents – or a maid with an aristocrat –  or a mixed race couple  –  all of them having to hide the “truth” of their obsession.   The book is labeled historical fiction – where’s the history, the “sense of the times?”  It’s also labeled as suspenseful –  yeah?  The narrator is giving it her very best shot – suspense voice to the max – doesn’t work – sounds overdone for what’s really going on.    I’m going to stick it out to 1/2 way –

Damon Galgut did a much better job with E.M. Forster  in Arctic Summer. a novel about a seriously uptight author in the Victorian era and his pursuit of a same-sex relationship – the entire book is only 352 pages – no need for 350 pages of “set up” although I’m sure Galgut could have done that  – explaining every look and touch of everything.   lol –

I have found no particular theme yet – just “lesbian love.”   I’ve found no  evidence of particularly “nice writing” which would include appropriate metaphors.   It’s just romance and most of that has some tension – or it wouldn’t be much of a novel at all.

Is something really going to happen?   Now at 10:08 –  (sigh) –

I’m really tempted to start reading “Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan.”   It sounds more interesting.  And I used to keep my eye on the television while reading – can I do that please?   (Oh – I am keeping an eye on the television already – this is seriously boring.)

Ooooohhhh!  Something happened!   Lillian went away for a week with her husband!  (omg – how thrilling!)  Or maybe the “thing that happened” was that the girlfriend Edith got engaged?   lol –

Maybe Waters is piling on the details in the pursuit of realism ala Virginia Woolf (See “Night and Day”)  or Henry James in The Golden Bowl.

So another reading group buddy said something about 50 Shades of Grey – yeah?  Never even tempted.   Another buddy said “Crime and Punishment.”   Um – not yet.  And he managed in 450 pages – I presume someone is going to feel guilty?  –  It’s still all about “wanting” and that wasn’t part of the Dostoevsky.

Half way!   –  ho hum – A love letter from Lillian – (oh my goodness! – this must be where “something happens.”   How exciting – the stuff of thrillers.

Oh I’ve got it now –  lesbians have feelings just like straights.  Wow – what insight,  plum shocking.

Ah! Historical stuff – WWI was mentioned!

Ah – at 11 hours into the book,  over half way,  something interesting has happened – a twist – lol – still,  there are certainly lots of romance novels which cover this sort of thing without the enormous amount of  “background.”   What’s this,  11 hours into the book – okay – great suspense? –

Romance –  boy meets girl who is married to abusive man.  They fall in love and eventually he wants to rescue her.  As they work this out she gets pregnant by hubby.  Now what?  Let’s make boy African-American – same thing – romance has troubles,  write a novel.

I’m going to get to Chapter 12 and quit for now –  maybe later.

Okay – I’m resisting now – there is a certain amount of involvement – what will happen to Lillian?   This is not a subject I’ve ever read about in any detail prior.

Well – searching to see if this book won any awards I happened upon what looks like it might be a valuable site –  http://www.fictionawardwinners.com/index.cfm   (This book hasn’t won any – Waters has, though.) = And the site has not been kept up.   😦

Ach – Waters is just plain slow.  Even after something happens” at page about 200 and a crisis erupts at page about 300 – the novel is all hype – not by the publishers but by Waters herself –  there’s a LOT of suspense and build-up for an abortion and then there’s an accidental killing (which could be self-defense) and finally there’s the detective bit and finally a trial –

Now I’m reminded of the whole series,  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which also covers – Book 1, a normal murder case where we are introduced to, Lizbet a very interesting character – Book 2,  the backstory of Lizbet including some detective work and the high-speed chases and so on, and – Book 3,  the trial etc.

With The Paying Guest it’s pretty much the same –  first half is a romance,  next quarter is the crime biz and the last quarter is the trial.

http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/novelreadings/bored-by-fear-sarah-waters-the-paying-guests/

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