Monday, December 27, 2010

"Forever Amber" by Kathleen Winsor

I was, as usual, in need of a book, and I decided that - if I was going to spend good money for literature - it had better last me a long while.

I looked initially for Emile Zola's Odette, but failed to find it in Barnes & Noble's notsohallowed grounds. My eyes alit on Forever Amber, and I plucked the weighty tome from its shelf. I scanned the back of the book, which described it as "unforgettable." The fact that it was banned in multiple cities when it was first published in 1944 helped seal the deal, and I headed home to read away.

I have never been so infuriated in my life at a book's characters. If you've read my tirade against Gone With the Wind's Scarlett and Ashley, you know I get miffed at characters pretty easily.

Scarlett's got nothing on Amber St. Clare. Ashley Wilkes' mind games pale in comparison to the incessant teasing Lord Carlton gets up to.

To put it this way: the main characters both get the plague, and you find yourself rooting for the plague! It's absolutely insane.

Essentially, Ms. St. Clare only has two things going for her: her beautiful face and her shapely body. Other than that, she has nothing: no common sense, no intelligence, and - unlike most canines, lab rats, and parrots - no ability to learn. She's a bit of dull-as-dishwater fluff who is absolutely certain that THIS TIME he will marry her, and that THIS TIME she will be happy.

The only people in the whole damned book who I liked were: 1) one of Amber's lovers who gets himself killed fighting a duel over the idiot girl; 2) King Charles II; 3) yet another guy who will love Amber, treat her like a princess, and actually marry her, but who she throws over for his best buddy.

In the end, Amber doesn't get what she wants, the reader wants to strangle her, and none of the other characters can stand her (so the reader isn't exactly alone).

If you want the most frustrating read of all time, then pick up a copy of Forever Amber (presumably named as such because she is forever making the same mistakes). If given a copy of Forever Amber - but wanting to preserve one's healthy blood pressure level - then use it to fuel a barbecue or something.

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