If you follow me on Twitter, you probably will have seen me using the above hashtag a lot in recent months. Because when you borrow books from the library, you have a tendency to pick up pretty much anything on the basis that the blurb sounds half way decent and it's not as if you're paying money for it anyway. And yet, once I'm 250 pages in, I feel the need to finish the remaining 100 pages even though it sucks. Other times, I've bought a book on Amazon for $0.99 and feel the need to finish it because I PAID $0.99 FOR IT, DAMMIT.
The book that I'm currently #stupidbookisstupid-ing is the former. It's a Pride & Prejudice sequel, which is one of my guilty pleasures. The blurb sounded interesting, and like it filled in the gap between Rosings Park and Pemberley from Darcy's perspective. BUT NO. Instead, it has delivered me with a Caroline Bingley who's apparently shagged half the ton, a Mr. Darcy who's possessive and jealous and emotionally abusive, a Lizzy who throws things and screams and stamps her foot, and is mostly focused on Colonel Fitzwilliam falling instantly for some random American woman.
So obviously, the plot is pretty terrible, and the author has more or less ignored everything Austen told us about her characters. But I think a big part of why it's making me headdesk as much as it is has to do with the writing. And not just the plot or the way the characters are portrayed, but the choice of words.
The author is American, which I have no problem with. Many wonderful authors are. But if you're writing a book set in Regency England - or England in general, for that reason - you should REALLY have a) a deep understanding of the language of the time, or b) an English person read it and check the language for you.
My high school French teacher once told our class that "You should never swear in another language, because you'll never quite get it right. Just ask the French tourist I saw recently who dropped her coffee in the middle of the street, and went 'Oh, sheeeeeeeeeeet'. It just doesn't work." Admittedly, Mrs. R was probably trying to ensure that we made a good impression with our host families on the French Study Tour. But her point remains valid here - there will always be words that have different meanings depending on where you are, even if both places in question are English-speaking.
This book has included a range of these. One of the first to stick out was "trash", which is rarely used outside North America. This was closely followed by one character asking another if they want cream in their coffee, which is not only uncommon in Commonwealth countries, but which would have been very unlikely at the time, especially in London where milk was apparently so expensive that many people used only a few drops in their tea or coffee. Given this, the use of cream in coffee seems enormously unlikely.
And then we had my personal favourite - the use of the word "fanny". There have been two occurrences of this to date - one in which Colonel Fitzwilliam is telling a story about his friend Patrick, who got shot in the fanny during a battle, and one during sexytimes in which we are told that Colonel Fitzwilliam "kneaded" his love interest's fanny. The former made me laugh so hard that I nearly fell out of bed. The latter? That just made me cringe, because NO and OHGODWHY and OW.
And to think, it all could have been easily avoided simply by asking an English person to peruse the text prior to publication...
Still, I suppose then I would have been deprived of the entertainment factor, so I suppose after all that, #stupidbookisstupid was good for something...
Have you come across any awkward terminology in books that means something totally different to what the author intended?