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The Modigliani ScandalThe Modigliani Scandal by Ken Follett

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

For a long time I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was about this book that was so...familiar. And then I figured it out.

It reminds me of a Georgette Heyer London mystery (as opposed to one of her "cosy" mysteries, or Regency romances)--except Heyer does it much, much better.

Two days of reading out of my life that I'll never get back.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 9th, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
So i have to ask
What does it take for a book to get a one star rating?
Aug. 10th, 2012 02:50 am (UTC)
Re: So i have to ask
Plagiarized material, bad writing (grammar, etc.), internal inconsistencies. I've endured a couple of those, but not lately.

I think I was particularly annoyed by this book because of Follett's author's note:

"...In The Modigliani Scandal I tried to write a new kind of novel, one that would reflect the subtle subordination of individual freedom to more powerful machinery. In this immodest project I failed. It may be that such a novel cannot be written: Even if Life is not about individual choice, perhaps Literature is.

What I wrote, in the end, was a lighthearted crime story in which an assortment of people, mostly young, get up to a variety of capers, none of which turns out quite as expected. The critics praised it as sprightly, ebullient, light, bright, cheery, light (again), and fizzy. I was disappointed that they had not noted my serious intentions.

Now I no longer look on the book as a failure. It is fizzy, and none the worse for that. The fact that it is so different from the book I intended to write should not have surprised me. After all, it rather proves my point."

Except I disagree with the critics--I found the characters to be universally venal, shallow, entitled, and mean. The only character I liked was an octagenarian pot-head, former street thief. And he was only in two scenes. The only thing fizzy was the champagne the characters drank with inappropriate regularity.

Edited at 2012-08-10 03:04 am (UTC)
Aug. 9th, 2012 01:00 pm (UTC)
Talk about a book feeling familiar... Once, I was reading a brand-new murder mystery and a couple of chapters in, a new character was introduced. I suddenly realized this character was going to be the second victim, I knew where his body would be found and who the killer was. But, I couldn't figure out why I had made this incredible (and correct!) intuitive leap. That night, I dreamed about the events in the book ... but the detective was Perry Mason. In the morning, it took me less than ten minutes to check my shelves and find the novel. Nearly identical plotlines written over 40 years apart!
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:13 am (UTC)
It happens with distressing regularity. It can be inadvertent (a future author reads a book in youth that they end up writing as an adult without knowingly plagiarizing), or it can happen knowingly (for example: "In 1997, another best-selling romance writer, Janet Dailey, admitted to repeatedly plagiarizing [Nora] Roberts' work. The practice came to light after a reader read Roberts' Sweet Revenge and Dailey's Notorious back-to-back; she noticed several similarities and posted the comparable passages on the Internet. Calling the plagiarism "mind rape," Roberts sued Dailey.[9] Dailey acknowledged the plagiarism and blamed it on a psychological disorder." The irony, of course, is that when Roberts was shopping her first manuscript around to publishers one praised her work highly, and regretfully turned it down "because we already have our American author," who was, you guessed it, Dailey.

Edited at 2012-08-10 03:14 am (UTC)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )