I had reservations about the LeGuin. She's always been a, mhh, praiseworthy author, and The Left Hand of Darkness blew me away in the 70s, but there's a certain distance, a certain rebarbative smoothness to her style that keeps me at arm's length and uninvolved. For one thing, her SF has always read like anthropological field reports. Yes, many SF writers get carried away by their world-building, but usually it manifests in an excess of enthusiasm and a tidal wave of details. LeGuin doesn't get enthusiastic about her worlds: she presents them noncommitally, factually, without a hint of 'isn't this cool?' And alas, Lavinia reads the same way. Not helped by the fact that early Roman history and Vergil and Latin itself always struck me the same way as LeGuin's style. Praiseworthy and featureless: nothing to latch onto, nothing to identify with. So I keep on with it because thete's nothing else to do, but I'm never going to enjoy it.
The Goncourts are a doorstopper in tiny print. The introduction has already told me what unlikable people they were. Maybe I should cut my losses and drop them now, in exchange for that 18th century picaresque Japanese novel that promises a bit more.
Oh sod off, LJ. 'Your IP address is temporarily banned.' And not a word as to why. So I post from my data roaming phone.