It practically kills me not to finish a book. I am a very task-oriented person, so to purposely leave something undone leaves me with a cluttered feeling...as if my home is littered with toys (which it often is) but I choose not to pick them up. I need the closure of reading the last page and shutting the book with a satisfied snap. I can't stand the feeling of all those loose ideas left hanging, those 200 pages left unread.
But sometimes it just has to be done. And this time, it had to be done.
I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I stop reading for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's because the writing is poor. Sometimes the plot is so full of dragons and ogres that I just can't take it. Or sometimes it's too long or too boring with too many big words, so I have to set it aside for a time. Sometimes it doesn't fit my current mood (in which case I usually come back to it). And sometimes, the content is inappropriate or makes me uncomfortable.
In this case, I loved the writing but after skipping the third sexually descriptive scene in the first 115 pages, and with only more infidelity on the horizon, I decided to call it quits.
Based on fact, The Paris Wife is the fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. The story is told from her perspective: how she met and fell in love with Ernest, their move to Paris and subsequent meeting of other writers and artists, and then the gradual crumbling of their marriage.
Anytime you take real people and turn their lives into a story, you run the risk of fictionalizing too much (What if Ernest's favorite sneakers didn't have a hole in them? Did he even have a favorite pair of sneakers? Does it matter if he didn't but she said that he did?), or, on the other side, leaving out too many details so that the story feels dry and stale. I have to say that from what I read, I was very impressed with the way Paula McLain melded fact and fiction in a very seamless, readable way.
But no matter how you slice it, Ernest Hemingway was a womanizer and an alcoholic. And I don't like reading about infidelity or excessive drinking. So, much as I find it interesting to read about a real person's life, there was nothing inspiring about this book for me. I finally had to look at the book from the following perspectives: Am I enjoying this book? Is it thought provoking? Am I going to be a better person for having read it? When I realized the answers were no, no, and no, I decided it was time to take out my bookmark and return it.
Everyone reads from a different viewpoint. That's part of the beauty of reading; it is completely individual and personal. Reading this book from a different background would be a completely different experience, I am sure. We all take our own thoughts and experiences and combine them with the plot and characters in the story, and what comes out is a truly unique experience for each person. Really, it's one of the reasons why I love reading so much.
That said, in this case, as much as I loved the writing, it wasn't enough to make reading it worth it to me. Take that as you will.
What books have you stopped reading? What made you stop?