Compulsive Overreader

Along with borderline hypergraffia, my other literary disorder is -- I'm a compulsive overreader. I'd like to say that I'm trying to get it under control, but I'm clearly not. Check out the archives here to find what I'm reading and what I think of it. If you came here directly through blogger --if your page has no yellow frames and no pretty pic of me in the top left corner -- you may want to visit my main site at, where you can read this blog and much much more.


I'm Trudy Morgan-Cole, a writer from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. My books include "The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson," "Esther: A Story of Courage," and "Deborah and Barak." I'm also a married mom of two, a teacher in an adult-ed program, and a Christian of the Seventh-day Adventist kind. I blog about writing, reading, parenting, teaching, spirituality, and shiny things that catch my eye.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Abundance, by Sena Jeter Naslund

I like Sena Jeter Naslund. Every novel I've read of hers has been slow to get into, never a fast or page-turning read, but always, ultimately, beautiful and rewarding. Abundance fits the bill on most of these counts: like Ahab's Wife and Four Spirits it was by no means a quick read for me, but it did pull me in more as I went along. The writing is beautiful (when it escapes being self-consciously literary). The one thing I'd have to question is whether it was, in the end, a rewarding read.

Abundance is a novel in my favourite genre -- a fictional portrayal of a real-life historical woman, in this case Marie Antoinette. Naslund's prologue makes it clear that she sympathizes with Antoinette and sets out to write a sympathetic portrayal of her. While Antoinette comes alive as a character, and the setting is vividly realized, in the end I found the author's view of the character too uncritical to believe. Marie Antoinette is not, as Naslund is at pains to point out, the heartless bitch who allegedly said, "Let them eat cake!" when told the peasants had no bread. She was, however, as Naslund portrays her, almost unbelievably self-centred and naive to the point of stupidity -- yet these qualities are never examined; we are expected to go on sympathizing with her even as she makes decisions that are clearly ridiculous and help to make the monarchy look frivolous and irresponsible in the eyes of the French people. She emerges from this novel as a pathetic, rather than a tragic figure. Maybe that was what Naslund wanted to portray.


Post a Comment

<< Home