I read the Day 9 post on Intelligent Life, and it made me think about this topic several days ahead of time. Surprisingly, I came up with an answer – just one – rather quickly.
When I was in high school I had a teacher who liked to give extra credit reading assignments for his history and social studies classes. The choices were mostly high quality historical fiction – books that give you a relatively accurate idea of a culture even though they aren’t necessarily true and may be rather fantastical. One of the books he chose was The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory, and I really enjoyed it.
Very often if you enjoy one book by an author, you’ll enjoy other books by that author. I assumed this would be true with Gregory and started borrowing her other books from the library. I can’t recall the order in which I read them, but I know I at least read The Constant Princess and The Other Boleyn Girl. Then I picked up Wideacre.
(Spoiler Alert) This is yet another book (see my opinion on Beloved, The Catcher in the Rye, and Wuthering Heights) that gets rave reviews that I don’t understand or agree with. It’s full of murder and obsession, not to mention some really fucked up incest. I couldn’t even finish reading the book, though I did skim a bit and read the end. This is one of the first novels that I hated so much that I never finished reading it all the way through, and it turned me off all other Philippa Gregory novels. The main character is a young woman desperate to inherit her father’s estate. She plots the murder of her father, betrays her first love, has no apparent self-control, has an ongoing sexual relationship with her brother (kinky, BDSM-type sex)*, and gives birth to two of her brother’s children. She’s also extremely manipulative and unpleasant. It’s just really gross. Definitely made me sick.
UPDATE: It occurred to me that another author deserved an honorable mention for parts of his books. Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series isn’t generally disgusting, but in every book that I have read (I haven’t read the entire series. I stopped when one book was just getting too disgusting) there is at least one character with disgusting habits that Goodkind for some reason likes to describe in excruciating detail. Examples: book one has a pedophile, although I can’t remember if there are any details; in The Temple of the Winds, Drefan Rahl is a serial killer and his adventures with prostitutes – including how he severs their spinal cords and then slices and dices while they’re still alive – is described in way too much detail; in Soul of the Fire (I never finished this one) there is a lot of rape and mistreatment of women.
*I just want to mention that while I don’t really get the appeal of BDSM, it was the incest that I found most disgusting. The BDSM-type behavior made it particularly strange, but the icky part was the incestuousness.