Welcome back to another week of recommendations. This week is going to be different from most because I am not recommending anything. In fact, I’m actually going to be discussing a book that I can’t seem to get through.
What book you ask? None other than The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall.
I picked this book out, specifically because I am focused on LGBTQ* material over the next month and a half. I have tried to read this book before, but had great difficulty. I figured that I could give it another shot, now that I am older and have a goal in mind.
The first time I picked up this book, I had recently graduated high school. I can’t exactly remember how I ended up with this book, but I seem to remember being told that it was one of the first lesbian novels. Of course, that isn’t quite true.
According to Wikipedia, it is the first novel in English that is recognized as having a lesbian theme. Yet, that only notes the recognition. There are books before that had subtle clues or metaphoric lesbian content. Anyway, the book was originally published in 1928 and was banned in Britain the same year. That little tidbit of history, along with some of the reviews which mention same-sex passion, is probably why I picked the book up the first time.
Yet, it was not to be.
I tried to read The Well of Loneliness the first time and barely made it out of the first quarter of the novel. I remember boredom playing a large role, but I can’t remember the exact moment that I decided I wasn’t going to continue to try to get through the prose.
I tried not to let my first experience influence me the second time around. However, I was quickly bored again with the content and the characters. I found the prose difficult to get through. Stephen, as a character, is interesting, but not remarkable. Early on, I realized that I didn’t really care about her story. I wasn’t intrigued. I didn’t want to know more. I was reading for the sake of writing this post. It actually took away the joy of reading.
So I put it down. I refuse to destroy my enjoyment of reading for the sake of including a book on this blog.
Of course, none of this is to say that it is a bad book. It is not my particular cup of tea, despite the quiet lesbian passion that apparently exists between its pages. That was not enough to motivate me to go on.
And thus, this is the book that, even 10 years later, I just can’t read.
Have you read The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall? If so, what did you think of it?