15 April 2010

DNF: The Painted Duchess by Anne Bruck

2010 TBR Lite Challenge

The Painted Duchess Maria Teresa, Duchess of Alba, has finally pushed the Queen beyond endurance. Banished from the court to the country estate of Piedrahita, the duchess sets off with a cavalcade of servants and an unexpected inheritance - her new ward. Consuela is as serious as Maria Teresa is frivolous, and her rival in looks. Also of the party is Francisco de Goya, who will immortalise Maria Teresa as the Maja.

I know I said in a recent BTT post that I intended to finish this book for the sake of the history. But that was before I realised that I could just as easily keep a watch on the biography section of the library - and if I should find something relevant, it will doubtless be more informative and less painful to read.

I really, really wish someone had given a copy editor the unpublished manuscript and the proverbial blue pencil, and told them to go nuts. Maybe then it wouldn’t have driven me nuts. Every page I read, I itched to edit. The prose was awkward, the dialogue needed more commas, and the POV hopped about like a kangaroo on speed.

For example:

....rode toward the Sierras along winding tracks that seemed to Consuela to lead up and into the depths of night.

Beata took Tadea to the chapel to light candles and kneel in prayer.

Any other night, thought Consuela....

Two changes of perspective in as many sentences.

Also, this: She smiled a little to herself at the thought of what Beata was saying at that minute.. At this point, Beata was travelling in another carriage. Was she psychic? Or: ....large cliffs, gouged out and left standing by some violent torrent millions of years ago..... In the eighteenth century (where, after looking Goya up in the encyclopaedia, I finally estimated the novel was set) hardly anyone had dared even imagine that the world could be that old.

Possibly the story was good. I was told by someone who’d read it that Goya was wonderful. But my pedantic soul just couldn’t see beyond the bad prose. Still, you have to award at least some points to a book which opens with a royal catfight.

Read: 87 of 428 pages

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:34 AM

    If only I'd read this before I'd started! It is very 'hard going'. I guess now I'm almost at the end i will complete it! Thank you for your review - if I hadn't found it then I would have thought it was me!! Regards Jill


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