Maybe a Writer’s Biggest Sin

I love New York, have lived in Manhattan and would happily live there again. I’m literate enough to stagger through paragraph-length sentences with multiple clauses set off by commas, needed or not. I should have liked The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud, but I didn’t.

Reading it was like being trapped at a cocktail party attended by intelligent but utterly self-absorbed people who are deluded enough to find themselves fascinating. In fairness, the author did a magnificent job of creating believable characters. A reader who is interested in the pretentious fringe of the New York City intelligentsia might enjoy reading The Emperor’s Children.

I finished the book only because it was recommended by someone whose reading taste I usually share, and I kept thinking it would get better. The second half was more somewhat interesting, but I resented the use of the 9/11 tragedy as a plot device.  Perhaps that’s why I’m posting a negative review rather than just putting the book in the box for Good Will, but there’s another reason.

I think The Emperor’s Children is well-written  and don’t doubt that Claire Messud is a  talented writer, but I didn’t like the the book because I didn’t like the characters. That’s not always a kiss of death – consider Gone Girl, but these characters bored me. For a writer, boring the reader is a sin.

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About Patricia Dusenbury

Patricia Dusenbury grew up in the Northeast, went to college in the South, and married a southerner. After a lifetime on the east coast, she recently moved to San Francisco. In her previous career, Pat was an economist and the author of numerous dry publications. She is hoping to atone by writing mystery stories that people read for pleasure. The Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition named A Perfect Victim, Book 1 of her Claire Marshall trilogy, 2015's best mystery. Book 2, Secrets, Lies & Homicide, was a finalist for the 2016 EPIC award. Book 3, A House of Her Own, is out and completes the trilogy. The first book in Pat's new series, working title Two Weeks in Geary, is a Claymore Award finalist. When she isn’t writing, Pat is reading, gardening, babysitting or exploring San Francisco, the fabulous city that is now her home.
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