Book Meme: Mel’s Day Eighteen

Book Meme Challenge:

A Book That Disappointed Me

There are several books that have disappointed me; only I put down already under “most overrated”.  Often times a book disappoints when it doesn’t live up to its popular hype.

Or sometimes they disappoint in comparison to what they could be.

The books that have most disappointed me were ones that did not live to – much less surpass as I had expected them to – the movie version.

Horatio Hornblower Series

by C. S. Forester


What, where am I? This is a literary-inclined blog, right? How is this heresy possible?

I confess, it is mostly likely because I saw the movies first. Have you seen the movies? The sweeping adventure, the stunningly well-written script, the beautiful photography, the appropriate music, the amazing acting, not to mention the gorgeous scenery! It is a movie that represents the what film as Art can be.  It is gorgeous.

As an example, the sheer story-telling power of the movies is amazing! In each episode, all the action is directed towards a specific end, and builds to a moment of near perfect catharsis. It is almost an Aristotelian ‘perfect drama,’ except without everyone dying at the end. Or quite so much tragedy.

Also, each episode seems to have a virtue or aspect of leadership that our hero must learn to practice and make work in the real world. All told in a natural, humanistic, attractive way.

So. Then, because the movies were so great, I thought that the books must be even better.


Oh sorrow! Oh dolor!

The books are not bad. They have some very pretty prose, and nice illustrations of nautical life. 

But they lack the clear plots that the movies have. They tend ramble and meander all over the place. Which is more like real life, but less satisfying in an adventure story. Also, I never felt attached to the figure of Horatio. In fact, he was rather annoying.

That is probably because I am so fond of Ioan Gruffud. He is Horatio. Even Gregory Peck’s Horatio cannot stand up against Ioan.

The Horatio that I admire is the young man who learns to become a leader of men through suffering, strategizing, and making the tough decisions and taking responsibility. This is less pointed or even apparent in the books than in it is movies.

The movies are wonderful, hair-raising, breath-taking adventures. Ships, French, pirates, plague, mutiny, Spanish prisons, treacherous shipmates, camaraderie, high society: all these must be traversed by our Man to bring glory to crew, country, and king.

The books . . . . . not so much.

(This the best Horatio Hornblower youtube video that I could find. But it does not even begin to capture the epic-ness of the movies.)


One thought on “Book Meme: Mel’s Day Eighteen

  1. I loved the movies! (though the last few got a little unnecessarily sad, and didn’t seem to know what to do with his somewhat unhappy marriage) I also have the first book on my shelf, waiting to be read. So while I did go “Oh no!” to see you’d chosen it as a disappointment, I decided not to read your whole post yet. I’ll have to return to this once I have read Midshipman for myself, but at least I can go in without hoping for a masterpiece.

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