Carrie's Reviews > Inglorious

Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna
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Aug 03, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: 2008
Read in August, 2008

Inglorious is British author Joanna Kavenna’s first novel, and I can’t say it makes me want to pick up any of her future work.

Inglorious is the story of Rosa Lane, a writer who works as a critic for a London newspaper. She is floundering after the death of her mother. Her grief has overwhelmed her, and made her already floundering relationship with Liam come to a dead standstill. When she decides to resign from her job, Liam is pushed to admit that they have no future together. He dumps her, takes up with her best friend Grace, and the two immediately become engaged.

At this point, Rosa undergoes a breakdown of immense proportion. She is unable to act in her own best interest, and she sinks further and further into debt. She moves from friend’s flat to friend’s flat, leaving when each one becomes tired of her endless depression and philosophical mutterings. She is unable to stand up for herself with Liam, who owes her money for their jointly-owned furniture. She is unable to write a coherent letter in response to the employment ads she finds in the newspaper. She is unable to ask her father for financial help - or even to tell him how much she is struggling. Basically, she is unable to do anything - except write endless lists of all the things she should be doing, but isn’t.

I know that depression exists, that grief can be debilitating. I’ve read books about depression and grief. I’ve read novels in which the main character is depressed or grieving. These topics can be written in such a way that reading about them doesn’t make you want to shake the main character until her teeth rattle. Unfortunately, Kavenna doesn’t write in that way. The style of the novel is almost stream of consciousness, even though it is written in the third person. The book pretty much follows every thought that Rosa has, no matter how repetitive or irrelevant. There is very little dialogue or actual movement or change. In fact, when I finished the book, I didn’t get the sense that Rosa had made any sort of breakthrough. She leaves for a new location, but her problems are all still with her, and I expect things will go as badly for her as they did in London.

I wanted to like this book. When I first started it, I was intrigued by the writing style. But then it became so repetitive, and nothing seemed to change, and I had to force myself to finish it.
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