This is a book I’ll never forget because it’s so bad, so ridiculous, so poorly written that it’s hard to believe someone could come up with 200 pages of such irredeemable drivel.
Barnes’ Elizabeth Finch is a thesis novel. This means it was written to make an ideological statement. Nobody writes thesis novels anymore because readers aren’t very interested in being clobbered over the head with political slogans. Unless you are brilliant at creating great characters or fascinating plot twists – and Barnes is extraordinarily inept at both – don’t attempt a thesis novel.
The ideological argument that Elizabeth Finch tries to deliver is that Christianity is the worst thing that happened to the world. It sucked all joy and wonder from people’s lives. If it hadn’t spread, Europe wouldn’t be a horrid, miserable place of evil ‘whiteness’ that it is today but would, instead, be a tolerant, multicultural, joyful paradise of multiracial, polygamous sustainability.
This idea is being delivered by means of the title character, Elizabeth Finch, a brilliant professor who dazzles students with her extraordinary intellect. The problem with writing about a character who dazzles with intellect is that you need to have some of your own. Barnes has none, so the witticisms of the brilliant professor sound like a collection of particularly pompous Hallmark cards.
There is no plot and, aside from the professor and one of her students, there are no characters. All that happens is that Elizabeth Finch talks (or writes) about her dislike of monogamy, marriage, children, Christianity, patriotism, and ‘whiteness’. She has no family or personal life of her own, and the most important thing that happens to her is that she gets cancelled by rabid right-wingers who control the press (I know, right?) for expressing all of these brilliant Hallmark views.
Oh, and Elizabeth Finch pretends to be Jewish. I have no idea why. She despises Judaism almost as much as she does Christianity, so it’s a strange thing to fake. This attempt at a plot twist is never explained. Nothing is explained. It’s all about stupid woke people considering themselves smart woke people.
After the extraordinary enjoyment of Elizabeth Taylor’s novels, I’m plunged straight into this dreck.