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Normally when I manage to read a novel in a couple of days, it is because it has impressed me with its brilliance and has become “unputdownable”. Not this time. I read this book in a couple of days because I had a stomach bug. While sat on the bathroom floor or poised on the edge of my bed for a quick return visit to said bathroom, I could read a bit. Unfortunately for me, Rosie of the River was at the top of my pile of library books. Sometimes, life is just too unfair.
I would have to confess to being a fan of Catherine Cookson in general. I have read and enjoyed many of her novels and have a collection of twenty or so of her books myself. But she can be rather hit and miss, and this one was in the latter category.
The story begins by introducing an uninspiring middle-aged middle class couple called Sally and Fred, who have a big, floppy, only slightly more interesting dog called Bill. They fail to inspire me to write more about them, as although they are important figures in the story, they really do very little in the 254 pages. The novel spans some twenty or thirty years, but if my life was as boring as theirs, I would be rather disappointed with my lot.
Anyway, the boring couple go on a boating trip on the Norfolk Broads. It was at about this time that I nearly gave up on the book, when my stomach cramps and the flaky paint of my bathroom walls were much more intriguing than the cockpit, awning and gunwale of the snoresome boating jargon. But I persevered.
While on holiday, they meet some interesting characters, most of whom appear only fleetingly in the rest of the story, while the plot is seen unfolding through the eyes of Mr. And Mrs. Boring.
A lot of the ‘action’ is retold through long, detailed telephone conversations, in which both Sally and Fred listen to, sharing the same 'phone. For some reason, this annoyed me. I wanted to tell them to get an extension. I also wanted to tell the person on the other end to GET ON WITH IT! It would have cut the book’s length down by a hundred pages, if they had.
The Rosie of the title is fairly interesting at first – spirited, rough round the edges, but you like her. Then she starts to do things that irritate you – well, she irritated me anyway. Sally and Fred suffered two miscarriages and are childless. Rosie appears, calls them Mama and Papa, but only visits them once every few years. If I were Sally and Fred, I’d feel rather short-changed. But no, of course not, their very lives are lit up by Rosie’s every (shared) ‘phonecall. Even when their beloved dog dies, a visit from perfect Rosie makes everything better. I mean, PUH-LEESE!!
The novel feels like several stories mixed into one, with Sally and Fred as the go-betweens, linking all the various worlds. But instead of making a great novel, it makes the central couple look as wet as hell and everyone else insignificant, as they are perpetually viewed from a distance.
As for Rosie – well, she leaves the river, of course and after a promising beginning, she becomes all predictable, gets married and lives happily ever after. Oh sorry, did I spoil it for you? No, you won’t bother reading it, after all. I wish I hadn’t.
Well, at first, I must admit that I wondered what your title was all about and then ... I gathered! Poor you! I know what it's like finding a book boring but having to finish it! I'm reading a pile of crap at the moment and am 450 pages into the 670 page doorstopper (I'll review it when I bring myself to finish the damn thing)! Can't wait for it to end! Anyway - great opinion, I'll avoid this 'interesting' book!
joannahudson 04.09.2001 20:51
I think I'll give this one a miss!! Jo :)
elle3041 04.09.2001 14:33
Sounds very disappointing - hope you are well again. Elle.