Do you ever read a book where you finish it and you’re like, Hm, I think I may be deeply stupid? I sort of felt that way when I finished reading A Pale View of Hills, but with that one, at least, I thought about it for a while and came to a conclusion. I have been thinking furiously about The Girl in a Swing, ever since I finished it yesterday morning, and I am still trying to figure out what the hell happened.
I was excited to read this book. I love Watership Down like crazy, and The Girl in a Swing is about a porcelain shop owner called Alan who is slightly psychic. While in Copenhagen on business, he meets and falls in love with a beautiful sensual German woman called Kathe. After a whirlwind romance, they are married and live happily ever after. Except that Richard gradually begins to realize there is Something Not Right and actually they don’t live all that happily ever after, so I was lying about that before. And did I mention it’s by the same guy that wrote Watership Down?
Psychic dude! Something Not Right! Watership Down author! I WAS SO DISAPPOINTED.
I also felt stupid, as previously stated. I feel like I understood the main thing that was causing spookiness – major spoilers in this paragraph only! – of how Kathe had a child and went into the woods and killed her dead so she could be with Alan. I got that. All clear on that.
Then there was all this stuff throughout the book about sex and Christianity and pagan goddesses and forgiveness that were confusing, and I think there may have been layers of meaning that I didn’t get. Because of being stupid. And maybe they would have made the book better. Like, the porcelain thing that Kathe gets, the Girl in a Swing? What was up with that? Did that relate to the theme of forgiving yourself? What all did I miss by being stupid? And, well, okay, by being bored and my mind drifting away.
Yes! Okay? I was bored with this book! It just took so long to get going; and if it hadn’t been Richard Adams, author of Watership Down, I’d have given up in despair. Occasionally there were strange little episodes with Kathe, but they were few and far between for most of the book. Same with Alan, who was supposed to be psychic, but he hardly ever was – I wanted more out of Alan! When Kathe wasn’t having fits at the sight of a church and shrieking at Alan to destroy the past and save her (i.e., most of the time), she and Alan were so sweety-sweet you just couldn’t stand it. They were constantly going, Oo, darling, how clever and beautiful you are, and oo, darling, how quickly you do seem to have learnt everything about my porcelain business, and darling, isn’t it nice for us that everyone you know adores me, and darling, let’s have sex all the time like bunny rabbits.
Which, you know, is funny. Considering.
I am so cross at being disappointed by a book I really wanted to enjoy that I officially say, Do not read this! It’s a waste of time. Read something good and thrilling and suspenseful like Watership Down. In fact I am so cross, I am not even going to count this as part of the RIP Challenge.