The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

What a disappointment

If there’s one thing I like, it’s browsing a bookshop. Walking along the aisles, picking up books, reading the synopsis. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s browsing books online. If one of my favorite authors has a new book out, it’s easy, I just type in the name and within minutes the audiobook gets downloaded to my reader. If none of my favorite authors has something new out, I’m groping in the dark, and finding something suitable is a nightmare. How will I find something interesting?

Sappy love stories are not for me. It’s always the same. Boy meets girl, some problems arise, the couple’s happiness is in jeopardy, but in the end, they live happily ever after. Such baloney.

Stories set in the olden days are fine, but preferably no further than the 1800s.

The setting of the story is also rather important. Stories set in Turkey, Bangladesh, or Nicaragua also get a miss.

I want a mystery, I want a murder or kidnapping, something that has me on the edge of my seat and keeps me awake at night.

After nearly searching for nearly two hours for my next read I noticed the name Alex Michaelides. Bingo, I’d struck gold. I loved his first book ‘The Silent Patient’ and thought I was in for another great story. I was wrong. I abandoned his second book ‘The Maidens’ after four chapters. Boring, boring, boring.

The story starts off rather promising. Two murders have been committed and the lead character, Mariana, is set on catching the killer.

The story quickly takes a turn for the worse though. Mariana is a wimp. She’s lost her husband and now all she does is either cry, whimper, or whine. While I understand her traumatic loss, does Michaelides have to go on and on about how she mourns the loss of her husband? The man went swimming in a gale storm for heaven’s sake, what did he expect? Every person with half a brain knows that you avoid the water when a storm is raging.

Fine, so now she returns to Cambridge to assist her niece whose roommate has been murdered. Another whimpering female.

If Michaelides writing got on my nerves, the narrator of ‘The Maidens’ drove me up the wall. There are two narrators, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith and Louise Breadley. I was familiar with Louise Breadley’s voice (she also narrated ‘The Silent Patient’), which is why I was so stunned when I heard her in her portrayal of Mariana. The way she talks … OMG, after four chapters I just couldn’t take it anymore.

So I’m afraid I’ll never know the storyline of ‘The Maidens’. It might be a good book, it might not. One thing is for sure, it’s nowhere near as good as ‘The Silent Patient’, which was excellently written and narrated. 

As someone once said, ‘Whether a book character is good or evil, the reader has to care about him or her.’ And that was precisely the problem with ‘The Maidens’, I didn’t care about Mariana and I didn’t care about her niece, Zoe.

Michaelides’ portrayal of campus life also leaves me wondering. The students party day in day out and are either drunk, high, or recovering from a hangover. When do these people actually study? How does any of them ever graduate? Are these the students of today, a bunch of alcoholics and dopeheads?

The critics can as usual not be trusted. They are being paid to give a glowing review. When I noticed the line “Listeners will not be disappointed with this suspenseful and intelligent thriller.” I rolled my eyes … listeners will most certainly be disappointed. I was. More than disappointed actually, Louise Brealey’s voice was the reason I abandoned the book.

So I’m on the prowl again, looking for a good book. Any suggestions?

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