This post was inspired by a recent review book I struggled to get through, How to Ruin a Queen: Marie Antoinette and the Diamond Necklace Affair by Jonathan Beckman. The title was intriguing and the blurb from NetGalley had me sold, despite the fact that I normally don’t venture into non-fiction.
Unfortunately, for me, this book just didn’t deliver. Part of the reason why I don’t read non-fiction often, especially historical non-fiction, is because I like action and drama. I don’t really care to know where so-and-so grew up, how their parents grew up, how their grandparents grew up, how much their house cost, what they used to set the dinner table with, how they are distantly related to what’s-her-face, etc. I don’t care what a bolt of lush fabric cost in 1875, I don’t care to know every detail of how elaborate hairstyles were accomplished and I get confused when everyone has the same name (ie: Henry, Marie, Louis, Jean, Elizabeth, Edward) because I can’t keep everyone straight!
But this book sounded different – I thought I could really get into the scandal behind this bogusly expensive necklace that someone tricked jewelers into thinking Marie Antoinette purchased, and with a description that mentions “kidnappings, prison breaks, and assassination attempts, hapless French police in disguise, reams of lesbian pornography, and a duel fought with poisoned pigs” how could I not request this book?
I ended up giving up almost halfway through the book – at that point Beckman had only just touched on how the necklace was stolen and there was no hint of poisoned pigs on the horizon. I was bored to death, and looking back at my Goodreads timeline, I actually started this book on 6/26 and after multiple attempts to get through it, I finally gave up on 8/29. I tried to like this book, I really did. But I just kept putting it down and picking up more interesting books. I feel a little bad – I don’t enjoy giving up on books and it’s very rare that I do (maybe I average one a year, if that?), but at some point I had to stop torturing myself.
I think the last book I abandoned was The Once and Future King which I really wanted to enjoy. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t, so after many attempts, I finally gave up.
Do you ever abandon books? At what point do you feel you’ve given the book a fair shot, and it’s okay to quit? What’s the last book you gave up on?