#BookReview: The Late Breakfasters by Robert Aickman

I love that Valancourt is bringing back some gems but this wasn't my favorite.


The Late Breakfasters by Robert Aickman, Narrated by  Matt Godfrey
Audiobook Review, 9 Hours
Released March 2017
Amazon ♦ Goodreads
In this riveting debut novel, See One of the preeminent writers of weird fiction, Robert Aickman is celebrated for his unsettling and often ambiguous “strange stories”, but he once wrote that “those, if any, who wish to know more about me, should plunge beneath the frivolous surface of The Late Breakfasters,” his only novel, originally published in 1964.

In The Late Breakfasters, young Griselda de Reptonville is invited by Mrs. Hatch to a house party at her country estate, Beams (which, incidentally, is haunted). There, amidst an array of eccentric characters and bizarre happenings, she will meet the love of her life, Louise. But when their short-lived relationship is cruelly cut short, Griselda must embark on a quest to recapture the happiness she has lost.

Never before published in the United States and long unobtainable, Aickman's odd and whimsical novel is now available for the first time as an audiobook, narrated by Matt Godfrey.


My Thoughts:

I was supposed to review this in April 2017 and somehow it slipped through the cracks :(

I started and stopped this book several times this week. At one point, I had zoned out so much I think I might’ve lost two hours and just started the entire thing over from the beginning. It’s likely me and my lazy brain, which is still a little foggy from lingering back pain, but I’m not going to lie, this book isn’t what I thought it was going to be and it starts off terribly slow.

I don’t even know how to begin this review because the story doesn’t follow any of the rules and does its own thing. I’m still not sure what that thing was but it might’ve gone over my head. If you pick this story up thinking it’s going to be scary or a little creepy because of the cover art, you will be disappointed because it’s not either of those things. It starts out when a young lady named Griselda is invited to a house party by a family friend who enjoys having pretty eye candy around for the men. At least that was the way it came across to me. Also invited are a whole bunch of Very Important People and Political Big Wigs who debate about politics and other things that didn’t interest me in the faintest. There’s also a dull girl whose only interest in life appears to be mascara. They all eat breakfast and go on walks.

I kept waiting for something bizarre and eccentric to happen as the blurb promised me but it didn’t. There is a ghost that may be hanging about the house but nothing much was made of the fact and it certainly wasn’t a scary ghost. Griselda has a lightning fast love affair with a lovely lady named Louise which is likely scandalous at the time but it’s over nearly before it is started and before the two have been able to exchange contact information. Griselda longs for Louise but resigns herself to a life without her, taking on a job in a bookshop and meeting further quirky people who have some odd adventures and that’s really about it. As I said, it’s a strange little story with some fun moments but there weren’t enough to keep me from struggling to finish.

I’m sure someone is saying, “Why did this fool continue to read this story if all she does is whine and moan about it?” Well, here’s why:

• I am not only a fool but I am a stubborn fool. I’m also not really a quitter. I'm always afraid I'll miss something great if I stop.

• The writing was beautiful and thoughtful and there’s quite a bit of social commentary thrown in, if that’s your thing.

• Several of the descriptions were oddly hilarious “He began to read the letter, looking, Griselda thought, like a monstrous sheep dyed green.” That just made me smile.

• The narration by Matt Godfrey was fantastic. He has a warm quality about his voice that lulls you in and makes you feel safe and comforted. If it weren’t for his narration, I seriously doubt I would’ve finished this book because this story isn’t the kind I typically seek out.

I’m giving the audio version a three because of the last three reasons. The story clearly wasn’t to my taste but you may read it and fall in love with the uniqueness of the tale. If it sounds interesting to you I’d recommend grabbing the audio and see where you land.

Check Out These Valancourt Titles Also Narrated by Matt Godfrey

    

Comments

  1. Yep, that's the same reason I always finish the books I start. I'm always thinking it will get better or I'll miss something good.

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    1. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn' t. . .

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  2. I would have expected this to be a bit scary too, or at least creepy-ish? Judging from the cover. It does seem like a different kind of read? Glad the writing and narration were good though even if it wasn't your cup of tea.

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    1. Thanks, Greg. That's what I love so much about audio. I can "read" all kinds of books I normally wouldn't pick up otherwise.

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  3. Count me in as having a FOMO with some books I shouldn't. This one I would have expected to have been a bit scarier too.

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    1. I think we all do it. I have such a problem with stopping a book once I've started even if I have to rewind two hours :)

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  4. You are not the only one who pushed through on a book that wasn't that interesting. I tend to do it more with audios for some reason. I think a good narrator can redeem a boring book. :)
    At least its done and off your review shelf.

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    1. You are so right. A skilled narrator can always keep me going.

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  5. I don't think I've ever read anything by Aickman before but I probably won't be starting with this one. I almost wish I were a little more stubborn when it comes to finishing books, but I give up sometimes when I'm not feeling it.

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    1. Nah, sometimes giving up is definitely for the best :)

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  6. That reminds me - I've been nursing my back all. damn. week. :( I may have to drop 80 Day, too.

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    1. Damn, I'm so sorry. For me I believe it was those bent over rows. I felt it pull every time I attempted it. I'm doing their new yoga program. It's easy and exactly what I need until I feel better. Take care of yourself!

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  7. The cover does look a bit ominous! Perhaps a bit misleading.

    Oh and I hate not finishing books as well, so I try my damnedest to get through it even if I'm not enjoying it. There has been a few though, that I just couldn't continue with!

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    1. Life is way too short and there are too many good books to struggle with one's that don't work but yet I keep doing it ;)

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  8. Anytime I find myself having to go back and listen to parts of a book again, I know that I am going to have a problem. I have had more than a few books that I probably wouldn't have finished if the narrator hadn't been as good as they were.

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    1. That's what I love so much about audio. I get through so many more books that way that would otherwise sit partially read on my shelves probably forever!

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