The Elephant in the…Book?

Something happened I just have to talk to you about. Recently, I read a book by a favorite author. I was mesmerized and thoroughly enjoying the experience until I hit the last few pages. Why? Because it seems the author (and the editors) made a huge mistake! Sorry, this is going to be a bit confusing, because I don’t want to reveal the book and author: In the middle of the book, the first-person narrator talks about a past event where she met a specific character. In the last few pages of the book, the narrator recalls a memory in the same time frame as that event, where another character specifically reveals that the person the narrator described meeting would not be attending the event for medical reasons. At first I thought this might be an issue with an unreliable narrator and perhaps I had missed something, but I went back to the initial event and at no point is there any surprise (“But So-and-So WAS there, even though Whosis had said So-and-So would not make it!”) or explanation (“The reason must not have been as bad as Whosis said, because So-and-So was there, which made me more suspicious”).

I keep trying to work out how this could have happened. The narrator meets this character in the middle of the book, and then at the end of the book we’re essentially told the narrator never did get to meet that person. And it’s interesting because our impression of the related character, Whosis, hinges on each of these events. I keep telling myself I must be misreading. Honestly, I can see how it could happen, because looking at a draft over and over again, you can start to take it for granted that everything’s in order, even if you read it all the way through. I certainly don’t want to point this out as a flaw, because the book is so good overall. Maybe people won’t notice? I’ve looked through Goodreads and no one has mentioned it, but I wonder if that’s because so many of us get to the end of a book–especially a thriller–and are so wrapped up in the conclusion that things like this don’t register. Have you ever experienced anything like this in a book? Did it change your opinion of the book or author overall?

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4 thoughts on “The Elephant in the…Book?

  1. Ooh, how strange!! Honestly, you should write a letter to the publisher — they’d want to know, so they can hopefully correct it in future printings. The closest thing I can remember to this is the end of the fourth Harry Potter book, where the dead people come out of Voldemort’s wand in the wrong order. Which they corrected in future printings!

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