I look for great books; bad books find me. The worst book I’ve read this year, Rose in Bloom, by Louisa Mae Alcott, found me last week in a used bookstore in Key West, Florida. I was attracted by the unlikelihood of finding the book and the 99 cent price. We all make mistakes.
Published in 1876, Rose in Bloom, a sequel to Eight Cousins, tells the story of Rose Campbell, her extended family and her former maid/now friend Phoebe. The story has one obligatory death and one prolonged illness and ends with three about-to-be-performed weddings. Let’s assume that there are stable characteristics that make books good like complex characters, strong dialogue and a progressive plot. Flip those on their head and you have this book and that’s not even counting the ever present sermonizing of the author.
I haven’t been able to find any contemporary reviews but if my assumption is correct, Rose in Bloom was also a bad book in 1876. Are there stable characteristics that lead to writing bad books? Was Louisa Mae Alcott the Danielle Steele energizer bunny of the Victorian era? Was she a one book writer who didn’t know that? Or is this another example of the universal truth that sequels are easy to pitch but always turn out worse than the original. But I wonder if it is worse to write a bad book or to write a book that the reader doesn’t remember they read.

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