At the moment, I'm reading a book by an author whose books I like a lot, and whose characters I always find engaging and attractive. I really loved the last thing I read by them and I expected to be drawn into this one at once, too.
And I wasn't, which made no sense, because all the things I loved about other books in the series were present: the detailed milieu, the strong characters, the intrigue, the sense of danger... yet my eyes kept sliding away and I found myself reaching for my current non-fiction book (which I'm reading for research reasons) instead.
But I kept on, and a few chapters in suddenly my interest picked up and I was happily absorbed.
Which was when it hit me. The first part of the book was set mainly on a ship. Ships just don't do it for me. Even when I writer I love, when characters I find fascinating are involved, one the naval stuff starts, I find I start to skim, to gloss, to rush on to get to the next bit without boats.
It's not the fault of any of the writers. It's me. For some reason, I don't want to read about boats. I never cared for Swallows and Amazons
and their sequels, nor for the Hornblower books. I've never been able to get into Patrick O'Brien: indeed, despite many people whose opinions I respect telling me how good those books are, my head drags at the thought of reading them. I'm just not a sea-story person.
I have no idea why. I'm a perfectly good sailor, and I enjoy travelling on boats. I have enjoyed films set on ships, too. I just don't want to read about them. There seems to be no logic to it (unless Arthur Ransome, who I read young and found dull for other reasons as well as the boats, put me off for life -- sorry, chilperic
). I don't mind when the characters are on ships and non-sailing/sea battle/pirate stuff is happening. Sea-board politics and romances? Fine. Hauling on sheets and reefing sails, loading cannon and chasing frigate? No, thank you.
It's a fault in me as a reader, I know that. I can see that the ship bits in the book I'm reading are well written and exciting. But I just don't have that button in my head. If someone wrote a book in which Aramis, who, as we know, is my favourite fictional character ever, became a sea captain, I'd read it, certainly. But I might well not be that engaged by it, unless he was all about politics, and not about capturing enemy colours and splicing mainbraces. And I wouldn't believe it, because Aramis doesn't like sea-travel: that's canon -- he tells d'Artagnan so in Twenty Years After
So, here's a question for you all. What doesn't work for you? I don't mean things you just don't like in books, or find a turn off or a bore, I mean things that you just don't quite get, somehow, that even in the hands of your favourite writers leave you lukewarm? Do you have any idea why? I'd like to think it's not just me!