Saturday, January 05, 2008

2. "The Red Queen" - Margaret Drabble


The crown princess of Korea is 200 years dead by the time her diaries are read by Dr. Barbara (Babs) Halliwell. Still, through death, the princess holds power and influences Dr. Halliwell to examine her life deeply when traveling to Seoul for a conference.

The first part of the book is the princess's memoir, fictionalized, of course, but based on true events. The story would have been captivating if not for the repeated attempts to stretch out the suspense by stating, "But I shall not speak of that now."

Compared to the second part of the book, though, this is magical writing. During the second half, the ghosts of the princess (yes, that is meant to be plural) use wily ways - and the internet - to push her story on Dr. Halliwell. There are some similarities in their lives, but not enough to deem interesting and definitely not intriguing enough to find literary merit through parallelism.

When reading two or three part books, there is a similarity of voice or style that links the stories. In this case, there is neither, and each section stands alone, the similarities seeming awkward and without purpose.

However, when Drabble inserted herself into the novel, I blew past annoyance to disgust on my emotional meter. Self-described as a tragicomedy, I found nothing humorous to merit that description, and the greatest tragedy is that someone will force this book upon someone else as an example of greatness. Bah, humbug.

1.5 out of 5.0 Kickin' Chickens.

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