At Ros Clarke‘s instigation and inspiration, Miss Bates joined her and others in reading a BIG FAT BOOK in July. Lately, Miss Bates reads romance restlessly, ARC after ARC, writing reviews … it feels flat, too much of the same for too long. She had difficulty articulating her malaise until she read this latest post by Jessica of Read React Review. Jessica is forthcoming about her own blogging and reviewing blehs-mehs. When Jessica didn’t feel the blogging love anymore, when blogging was a chore and burden, she put her blog on hiatus. Miss B. missed her terribly, but she understood. Then, Jessica returned, to all our joy! It was enlightening and comforting for Miss Bates to read Jessica’s blogging take because it’s positive, helpful, and hopeful. In a nutshell, blogging blahs happen: don’t feel guilty, take a break, make some changes; you will blog again and enjoy it. Your blog is bigger than you: let it brood while you brood. Miss Bates knows that she would miss MBRR terribly, so it’s not a hiatus she needs.
The blogging blahs after only a year? 106 posts later? Regular readers and commentators and you’re restless? For shame, Miss Bates. Miss Bates has always had a short attention span, a tendency to master a skill, or task and move on. As a result, she’s left behind things that have given her pleasure and fulfillment: cue in knitting projects and attempts at bread-making. Writing Miss Bates Reads Romance has given her great pleasure and she’s so grateful to everyone who’s read and commented on her posts. And truly blessed by the people she’s met and chatted with (also in her latest most addictive cross-over meeting-ground, Twitter). In the end, she’d miss it: she’s not where Jessica was when she called a blogging hiatus. Miss Bates still reads and loves romance. She still loves to write her posts. She is, however, tired of the sameness of read review, read review, ARC after ARC. She’s lost her blogging edge. What she’s proposing is to shake things up a tad: she’ll still review new and old romance titles. She’ll mostly be writing about romance, romance with romantic elements, classic romance especially, and romance-related anything-that-strikes-her-fancy. She’s not laying down her keyboard, just tapping away a little differently. Posting about her Big Fat Summer Book and what it feels like to be reading something outside the romance genre, after exclusively reading romance for five years, will be one such experiment, even if an utter failure. After reading Mantel’s Wolf Hall for a 25-minute increment, a “Pomodoro” (again, a method of work discipline she learned from Jessica and Sunita), failure may be where she’s headed.
Reading Wolf Hall is hard work. Miss Bates realized how comfortable she is with the familiarity of romance reading. Sunk in it and stagnated a tad, like her blog.
Reading Wolf Hall isn’t fun. The style is elliptical. There’s no meet-cute, or meet-angry, or meet-hate, or meet-awkward; it’s devoid of the conventions of romance fiction. Miss Bates has to re-read bits of the opening chapter, to flip back and forth between the text and list of characters to make sense of who’s who. Miss Bates has a good moment when she realizes Wolf Hall is third-person POV. She’s grateful to Ros who pointed out in a tweet that “he” is always Cromwell. The opening scene is of fifteen-year-old Cromwell being beaten by his father. It’s messy, ugly, and the description of Thomas’s slit eye, bleeding nose, and vomit turns her stomach. She doesn’t like it.
Reading Wolf Hall, Miss Bates has difficulty … blush … following the dialogue. The bruised and bloodied Thomas crawled to his sister and her husband’s pub. They were sympathetic, these two, Kat and (*MissB scurries off to consult the list of characters*) ah, here it is, Morgan. They were appalled by, but familiar with, Walter Cromwell’s abuse. Morgan talked big; his wife, fish-wifey, set him straight on his bravado. She knows her father; she knows their limitations. They care about Thomas, these two; they try to help him. They’re good people, but they’re not admirable, nor heroic.
They were small, these characters, decent, but limited, human, familiar. Miss Bate is a bit depressed.
Things pick up in the next chapter: Thomas made his way in the world most marvelously. Years later, he is Cardinal Wolsey’s man of business. The scene with Wolsey sent a thrill of craft-admiration through Miss Bates. Mantel is a master: the Cardinal came alive in his rueful humour and charm.
Reading Wold Hall is slow. But when the Pomodoro chime went off, Miss B. barely noticed the time go by. Her page count compared to reading a romance: abysmal. Pathetic.
Turning to other books in Miss Bates summer reading: Mary Ann Rivers’s Laugh=trying-too-hard prose, Miss B. is not looking forward to the rest after it’s insta-lust mingled with excessive angst start. She’s reading Mary Stewart’s elegant prose in Madam, Will You Talk? The mystery is set; the heroine is diffidently making her way into the heart of danger. Charity (the name’s the thing) is a loving person, cares about this boy who seems/might be the target. She is lonely and isn’t afraid to say it. Miss Bates feels lonely without a romance.
Thanks to The Lovin’ Spoonful: Miss Bates bowdlerized their lyric, or is that blogderized?