August 27, 2016 by Stephen Bentley
Curious Case of the Iceberg Lettuce and a Cranky Book Reviewer
Welcome to the World of Books (and Iceberg Lettuce)
You may ask what an iceberg lettuce has got to do with book reviews. Read on my friend …
While I was on the Goodreads site, I spotted a 1* Review. I thought ‘no, it can’t be.’ But it was and here is what was posted by the reviewer.
If there’s a worse book out there, I can’t think of what it is. This was awkward and weird, with neither main character having anything remotely interesting about them. There was absolutely no reason for them to “fall in love” (and I use that phrase very lightly here), and every reason for him to run for his life. It was a weird plot device that didn’t work in any way. The “plot” (again, using the term lightly), was off. It was all telling and no showing, and the telling made no sense whatsoever. Run, don’t walk, from this one.
I had given it a 5* review and did not agree with the above reviewer at all:
I disagree. What a harsh review! I enjoyed it but then again I am not a book ‘snob.’
I must have touched a nerve for this was the riposte:
Stephen wrote: “I disagree. What a harsh review! I enjoyed it but then again I am not a book ‘snob.'”
It’s fine for you to disagree. I respect that! However, to imply that because I did not enjoy this book that I am a book snob is uncalled for. Go write your own glowing review if it means that much to you
I was moved to answer:
“Book snob” uncalled for? What about “If there’s a worse book out there, I can’t think of what it is.”? I maybe old-fashioned but if I feel a book is that bad then I don’t review it. I didn’t imply you were a “book snob.” I expressly stated it! Or at least if I didn’t, I have now.
My blood pressure was rising so I decided to check out this lady further (old detective habits die hard):
I checked out your blog and I see you describe yourself as a “wannabe” writer. I look forward to the day when I am able to review (fairly) your own book. You know the old saying – “writers write and teachers …” And for your information you ought to grow your own organic iceberg lettuce. You may then refrain from “hating” books and wanting to “stab” them. Chill out, woman!
The reference to the lettuce was her use of her irrational hatred of iceberg lettuces (letti?) to compare one to another book that she had deemed ‘worthy’ of a 1* review.
I now suppose she will take me to task for being sexist and calling her a “woman.”
She’s a librarian too. I hated those people when I was at school. Humorless, supercilious pricks and prickesses.
I look forward to seeing her work in print one fine day 🙂
As far as I am concerned if you are unable to rate a book 3* or more then don’t bother writing the review. A 3* Plus review can be both honest and critical. There is a right way to criticize and a wrong way.
The woman in question can have no real grasp of what it’s like to pour heart and soul into a book then be subjected to cruel and unnecessary ‘punishment.’
As Bambi’s mother said, “If you can’t say anything nice … then say nothing at all.”
This is my Amazon review of A Harvest Passion:
At the outset I have to confess this is not the type of book or genre (Regency Romance) I would normally read. Silly really, as I do enjoy period drama and I am a big fan of TV’s ‘Downton Abbey.’ Emily Murdoch is possibly the next ‘Julian Fellowes.’
Emily has degrees in History and English plus a Masters in Medieval Studies and it is clear she draws upon her academic training to strive for accuracy in the settings of this period piece. She does that with ease and paints a picture with words evocative of a bye-gone era.
Her characters Leo and Hestia come to life in this book and like all good authors she develops those two main characters so that the reader truly feels he/she has met a ‘new friend.’ I liked the way the book deals with issues of the day particularly the way the author underlines the ‘inferior’ role of women in that era in England. Ms Murdoch also captures the very essence of ‘small-town’ ‘small-minded’ little England in the way she writes about the gossip-mongers. The fictional village setting of the book has more ‘loose tongues’ than you can shake a stick at. The settings of the school house, church, Hestia’s home, guest-house and harvest-time fields are all exquisitely interwoven with the characters.
The love story, because essentially that’s what it is, is beautifully told through the feelings, actions and thoughts of both Leo and Hestia. I felt myself holding my breath as this relationship unfolded before my eyes.
Bravo! Ms Murdoch, for entertaining me and opening my mind to a new genre of books.
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