“Bohemia” by Veronika Carnaby.
Summary: “In her debut novel, Veronika Carnaby picks up where the Beat Generation left off. Set in 1960, Bohemia chronicles a group of twenty-somethings who defy the “ideals” of a mid-twentieth century society to seek creative fulfillment. In the process, they spotlight the creative path that artists of all mediums tread, all the while depicting the challenges faced by youth in the decade that changed the world.“
Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Women, Fiction; Settings: Historical/Contemporary (1960s), England, USA; Other Categories: Novel, Debut, Speculative.
Introduction: Originally, I was holding today’s post to put up a review of an ARC I received recently. However, after struggling to get through half of the novel (yes, I stuck with it THAT long), I realized that I had to stop reading it, because it frustrated me too much to continue. That’s when I thought… rather than leave the day without a new post (because I haven’t any other reviews ready at the moment), perhaps I could go back and put up a post about a novel that I couldn’t finish reading, and explain what made me put it on my DNF shelf. This book is actually the first ARC I ever put on my DNF shelf (and yes, it hurt)!
I’m calling this #DNF Friday #1 because… maybe I’ll do more of these – if people appreciate them! Let me know in the comments what you think.
Also, please let me know which of these two graphics you prefer – Right or Left?
Disclaimer: These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section below (and in fact, I encourage you to change my mind). So, with that out of the way… let the controversy begin!
Why I can’t write a Book Review for “Bohemia” by Veronika Carnaby.
While the premise of this book is a good one – following a group of Cambridge graduates in the 1960s through their adventures in England and the US – I just couldn’t finish reading this one, for several reasons.
For example, almost immediately upon beginning this novel, I found mixed metaphors, curious language, inconsistent character development (and not just because they decide to be spontaneous), action taking place that seems out of context and not matching with what happened so far in the story, use of American slang by a group of Brits (that didn’t feel like it was done ironically), and more. Now, I understand that Carnaby is also a poet, and her prose is described as “beat-style.” I’m afraid I didn’t get much poetry hear, and I’m not sure what “beat-style” means.
In addition, I found many grammatical errors (misused words, incomplete sentences, and even several glaring misspellings). If that’s what they mean by “beat-style” then call me old-fashioned, I prefer a book that doesn’t murder the English language. This also troubled me because it also meant that I found it difficult to understand what the author was trying to say at times. Furthermore, it was difficult to become sympathetic with any of the four main protagonists. If I don’t care what happens to any of the characters, then why read on, right?
I do hope that I’ve gotten the wrong impression (and if others have read and loved this book, I hope you’ll tell me where I went wrong), since I did see flashes of brilliance in what I did read (some of the descriptions of places were very vivid), and the writer does seem to have hit on a concept that held a good deal of potential. However regarding execution, I think she just needs a really, Really, REALLY good editor. Now, unless my preview copy was an unedited one, and what I read was totally different from what was published, I’m not sure what others saw in this book that they were able to rave about. I’m sorry but I just can’t recommend this book, and I think I’m being generous with a two out of five star rating.
“Bohemia” by Veronika Carnaby is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery), new or used from Alibris, or Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from Bookshop.org (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic).