Lessons learned from The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman #bookreview #MondayBlogs #AmReading

This week I’m reviewing a book we read for book club. I didn’t choose this novel. Frankly, I don’t even know how this book was chosen as I’ve just joined (and taken over) this book club. I’d love to give you some views on what others thought of the book, but the meeting was eventually canceled as I fell ill (story of my life). I’m shocked I actually managed to finish the book on time. Go me!

The Book

 the italian teacher 2

My Review

This is a difficult book to rate as I would have never picked this one up off the shelf (even though the cover art is fabulous) as the description didn’t interest me. Family sagas are not my thing. I wouldn’t have finished this novel, but it was a book club selection (and everyone knows you are legally obligated to finish those). Although the writing is good, the story didn’t pull me in. I hated, hated, hated Bear. His serial marriages added to having numerous children he essentially forgot about it made me more than a bit angry. And Pinch? He was not a character easily loved. I kept screaming for him to get it together! Strangely enough, the characters on the pages of a novel do not listen to their readers.

My Rating

I struggled with this, but finally decided on three stars.

My Thoughts as a Writer

Normally, I don’t include my thoughts as a writer in a book review, but I couldn’t resist. This book provides a valuable lesson for writers (or at least it did for me). What happens when your protagonist is unlikeable? No one is going to continue reading the story because they are rooting for the main character. Maybe if he’s deplorable, they’ll root for his demise. But what if he’s just boring and lacking in personality (as Pinch was), what then? I don’t have an answer to this question.

Cover 2.0Morgan, the main character in my novel Life Discarded, does something horrible at the start of the novel. Like, really, really bad. It’s the prologue. I then spend the rest of the novel trying to justify / explain why she was essentially a good girl turned bad. The reviews were mixed. No matter how hard I tried to justify Morgan’s actions, some readers couldn’t wrap their heads around it. I took this lesson to heart. I now try to ensure my main characters are likeable or at least don’t commit major crimes.

Do you enjoy novels with an unlikeable protagonist? Do you write novels with only likeable characters?

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  1. You joined, you conquered? 😀 Awesome.

    A very interesting question, too. Off the bat, I’d say it’s a kind of blindness to write only characters that come across as likeable, but now that I think about it, I don’t know… Maybe it’s a good kind of blindness, at that. Also, where goes the line between likeable and pandering? Different readers have different needs, too (oh, I loathe myself for saying that, but there it is), and one person’s likeable may be another’s disgustingly cloying.

    1. All true. I write murder mysteries so there is always a bad guy who is usually not likeable. But for the main character, I go for someone usually likeable. Although my female protagonists can be oddballs and not everyone likes an oddball.

      1. How heart-breaking would it be, though, if the bad guy was likeable too, esp. in a murder mystery? It’s not my preferred genre, but now that I threw that out here, I’d really like to read one like that!

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