Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Last Enchantments by Charles Finch

The Last Enchantments After graduating from Yale, William Baker, scion of an old line patrician family, goes to work in presidential politics.  But when the campaign into which he's poured his heart ends in disappointment, he decides to leave New York behind, along with the devoted, ambitious, and well-connected woman he’s been in love with for the last four years.

Will expects nothing more than a year off before resuming the comfortable life he's always known, but he's soon caught up in a whirlwind of unexpected friendships and romantic entanglements that threaten his safe plans. As he explores the heady social world of Oxford,  he becomes fast friends with Tom, his snobbish but affable flat mate;  Anil, an Indian economist with a deep love for gangster rap; Anneliese, a German historian obsessed with photography; and Timmo, whose chief ambition is to become a reality television star. What he's least prepared for is Sophie, a witty, beautiful and enigmatic woman who makes him question everything he knows about himself.

What a disappointment this novel was. It had everything going for it, too: lovely setting, a supposed “romance”, and a group of friends trying to figure life out. For me though, the book fell short of its promise.
One of the main issues I saw was the lack of any likeable characters. They were all whiny, with the kind of indecisiveness that is so overdone it doesn’t ring as true. Will, the protagonist, couldn’t make a decision to save his life, which makes for a frustrating reading experience. No one wants to read about a group of adults who can’t the most basic of things in their lives. Sophie, the love interest, is the worst, though. She wins the prize for most annoying character I’ve read about in a long, long time.
There is no real plot. I understand that this is a literary novel and is therefore character-driven and not plot driven, but when your characters are so frustrating, you have to at least try to give the readers something that can propel them to keep reading. The storyline has no structure; it meanders, giving us glimpses into life in Oxford without truly bringing anything into focus.
As you can probably tell, this book is not one that I would recommend unless you want to roll your eyes at the page every few minutes. From weak, almost pathologically indecisive characters to a non-existent plot, this novel is one of the least interesting ones I’ve read in a while.

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1 comment:

RuthB said...

I'm sorry this wasn't a good book.
I understand why you didn't like it. It seems like the characters had many flaws