I’m reading (as who isn’t) The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. When I started reading it, I was like, “OMG, this is brill!” After a bunch of chapters, I was like, “I’m not reading any more of this.” But I’m still reading.
It’s all about voice.
Here’s a snippet of what I said back in 2011, in a post about voice/tone:
Do you ever flip through cable channels, catch three seconds of something, and say, “Oh, that’s M*A*S*H,” or, “That’s DRAGNET,” or “That’s TWILIGHT ZONE”. Well, just as you can spot a M*A*S*H or a DRAGNET or a TWILIGHT ZONE in three seconds, you know a scary book when you read it. You know a tough-guy book. You know a light-hearted comedy. You know it by the tone.
In a first-person narrative, your narrative voice is the sound of the character telling the story, right? Well, The Invention of Wings is told in alternate chapters by an enslaved woman and the Charleston, South Carolina girl to whom she was given as a gift.
To begin with, the voices were highly distinct and highly distinctive. Before long, the tones began to even out, which was off-puttingly disappointing. They never became indistinguishable, though, and, because of the book’s many strengths, and because the “owner,” Sara Grimké, was a historical figure, I’m reading it with pleasure.
Just not as much pleasure as that with which I began. I am no longer an intimate part in Handful’s story, even though I care what happens to her and am supposedly in her life during her chapters. Kidd puts me in Handful’s action and mind, but no longer in her skin and viscera. I can recommend the book, but not on the basis of strong and consistent narrative voice. Alas.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write a scene from the points of view of two very different people. Write backgrounds for them first, if you need to. Make them sound different.