Warning: Contains spoilers for War and Peace and Leon Uris’s The Haj.
Feature and Follow Friday is hosted by Alison of Alison Can Read and Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View. Every week a new question is posed, with the intent that everyone will gain new mutual followers. The hosts also interview a featured book blogger each week.
Question of the Week: Change the Plot. If you could, what book would you change the ending or a plot thread? Go ahead and do it…change it.
The first book I’d want to change would be War and Peace. I was extraordinarily pissed off when Nikolay spurned his longtime sweetheart (and cousin) Sonya to marry that annoying, unrealistically pious and forgiving Princess Mariya. What the hell! I didn’t just invest so much emotion and time in these characters to see such a horrible match in the end! I felt so bad for poor Sonya, and hated Mariya even more when Nikolay married her just to save his family’s finances.
Princess Mariya was one of my Top 3 most-hated characters in that book, the others being her emotionally abusive, lunatic old father and Pierre’s toffee-nosed bitch of a wife Hélène. There’s being a devout, pious, forgiving Christian, and then there’s just being a spineless pushover who normalises and lovingly excuses abusive behaviour. She kind of reminded me of the overly saintly Little Eva in the horrid Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Real humans don’t act, think, or speak like that.
Yeah, and that Part Eight, I’d totally junk it. Tolstoy rambles on and on about God knows what for 60 pages, some boring treatise on the study and nature of history. It had absolutely nothing to do with anything that happened in the prior thousand-plus pages. When I reread the book, I’m skipping Part Eight entirely. Maybe next time around, I can read it in just two weeks instead of nineteen days.
The other main book I’d want to change is Leon Uris’s The Haj, which is sort of like the Arab POV of his classic epic novel Exodus. Some people claim this book is racist because it dares to accurately depict historical events and attitudes, like the fact that the ruling Arabs sent their own people down the river and have been using them as political pawns for over 60 years.
This book was going great, till it all fell apart in the last 50 pages or so. All these characters I’d gotten to know and love suddenly starting acting so out of character, and the entire story unraveled and completely fell apart. It were like Uris thought it were getting too long and decided to pull the plug as quickly as possible, without seeing storylines and characters through to their natural conclusions.
What happened to the other people of Tabah, who escaped to Lebanon during the War of Independence in 1948? How come Ibrahim’s sleazy, double-crossing brother Farouk never got his just desserts? I was hoping they’d have some kind of confrontation, since Ibrahim refused to part with his old jeweled dagger when trying to scare up money. He said he had a special use in mind for it, but we never see Farouk again.
It’s not that the ending was depressing so much as these developments came from out of left field and felt way too rushed and out of character for Ishmael and his sister Nada. I would’ve made it so that Ishmael escapes the refugee camp and makes a better life for himself and his people with all his intelligence, progressive ideas, curiosity, education, and literacy. And Nada definitely wouldn’t start whoring it up.