Even great writers get panned: One-star reviews for ten classic books

Everyone tells you not to do it, and yet you do it all the same. Taking a deep breath as you load the page, then scrolling down with mounting apprehension, and ending up – at least some of the time – wanting to sob/shout/shove the darn computer out of the nearest window (delete as appropriate).

Yes, I’m talking about that very modern phenomenon, the Writer Looking at Their Amazon Reviews.

Don’t get me wrong – the internet is about all about self-expression and I’m all for it, but it does have its downsides, and if you’re an author, the one-star review is definitely one of them. But even the greats of the past are not immune, so it being the season for some harmless fun, here are some of my favourite one-star Amazon reviews for ten of the world’s best-loved books.

Extra points if you can guess the book from the review alone!

“I’ve made it through a book about keeping carrier pigeons that was more fascinating than this drivel.”
“It was all about fishing.”
“When I think of anyone being forced to read this novel I want to fall on a harpoon.”

The book? Moby Dick

“There is scarcely anything that is written on the first page that could not be expressed more concisely.”

The book? Bleak House

“I found myself drowning in a continual tirade of saturated and self-righteous drivel.”
“Pages upon pages of meaningless and increasingly uninteresting rambling.”
“I would rather fornicate with sheep than re-read this book.”

The book? Jane Eyre

Jeez Louise, is there anything remotely likeable or identifiable in the gruelling, windswept, dark brooding heavy-browed, heavy booted stomping, yelling, bickering, cursing, beatings and rain-lashed untimely sickly deaths of this 356 page ‘gothic’ drear-fest.”

The book? Wuthering Heights(I can actually imagine Emily Bronte shouting ‘Yay!’ to this one!)

“This guy could have used an editor.”
“A turgid slog through an extremely dull milkmaid’s life.”
“I recommend this book as kindling for a fire.”

The book? Tess of the D’Urbervilles

“Writes with all the subtlety of a locomotive.”
“Excellent substitute for valium.”
“Come back, Steinbeck: all is forgiven.”

The book? The Great Gatsby

“How anyone can waste time examining and dissecting the ridiculous imaginings of some type of recluse is beyond me.”
“This is the single most appallingly overrated nonsense I have ever had my displeasure to read.”
“Will be put in the guest bathroom to be used for toilet paper.”

The book? The Lord of the Rings

“What a sad collection of wordy fluff!”

The book? Middlemarch

“A sissy plot, not at all scary or even plausible.”
“This book could easily be 50 pages long, it would be a great read on the crapper.”
“Horribly written. Decent plot, though. I will give her that.”

The book? Frankenstein

“I could carve a better man out of a banana. Garbage, and she can’t write for toffee!”
“It is simply a 19th-century British version of the Jerry Springer show.”
“Not exactly Thus Spoke Zarathustra is it?”

The book? Pride and Prejudice

So there you are – a reminder, if we writers ever needed one, that you really can’t please all the people all the time, however much of a genius you are….


This post was written in 2014

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