After the dark violence of The Pilo Family Circus, I was ready for something life affirming and whimsical, so last week I picked up Chocolat by Joanne Harris.
In fairness, I appreciated the themes of this novel, which so frequently seems to turn up on people's "most loved books" list. For those who haven't read it, it's the story of a nomadic mother and daughter, who arrive in a small French village and set up a chocolate shop at the beginning of Lent. Their presence - and leanings towards paganism - raise the ire of the local priest, who wants his flock to focus on self-denial, not the sinful indulgence of the perfect eclair.
But, every time the novel switched narrators from the free spirited Vianne to the repressed Father Reynaud, I lost interest.
Not just becaue Reynaud was unpleasant - every good story needs a good antagonist - but because I wasn't that interested in knowning what was going on his head. Or at least, not so often.
Reynaud's reasonably fleshed out flaws are ideal for the story; experiencing events from his perspective gives the tale more depth; and his demise - as inevitable as it is ironic - is satsifying.
But, as necessary as his narrative voice was, it removed me from the story rather than drawing me closer.
I finished the book, but had Reynaud had more page time, I may not have.
So, it got me wondering how often people leave a book unfinished because of the narrative character. I don't mean not finishing a book because we don't like the story, or the style of writing, or the type size.
I'm talking about being aware you don't like the narrative character and choosing to put the book aside because of it (as I did a year ago with John Kennedy O'Toole's The Confederecy of Dunces). Or maybe even continuing to read but loathing the narrator to the final page (as, apparently, did many detractors of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series).
Has anyone else experienced the annoying narrator phenomenon?
(And yes, Belinda, your topic about narrators of audio books is the next logical post!)