“The Red Queen” by Margaret Drabble

This was one of my reading group books for this month, and something I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but I thought the blurb sounding promising and was looking forward to reading it.

Unfortunately, it was one of the most disappointing books I’ve read in ages. The story is split into two parts, the first part being the memoirs of a Korean princess in the eighteenth century, and the second part following an academic who reads the memoirs and the impact they have on her life.

Firstly, I didn’t like the style – apart from the two halves to the book, there are no chapters, and the first part was a first person narrative, while the second part was third person/reportage, but I never felt engaged with either of the characters whose tale was being told. I also felt that the memoirs were actually quite sketchy and vague, fitting the whole of her life story into 150 pages. I’ve read a couple of other books based on Chinese women in this era, which were detailed and explored the society of the time, but this one was particularly lacking in detail and atmosphere.

I have to admit, I only read 50 pages of the second part of the book before I gave up. I didn’t care about any of the characters or where the story was going, and decided that I have far too many other books demanding my attention to both reading another 150 pages of a story I just wasn’t interested in.


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