About eighteen months ago, I read A Gate at the Stairs in preparation for my thesis about post-9/11 literature. I had heard rave reviews about it and so I was really looking forward to digging in. As is my habit, before I started reading it properly, I read the synopsis on the inner flap of the cover (I'd splashed out and bought a hardback - that's how much I'd wanted to get my hands on this book) to get an idea of what I was in for. This is where my problems began. You see, this 300-word synopsis of the book was, in my opinion, completely misleading. I don't mean "misleading" in the Star Wars is a tender love story set in the Bronx during the 1930's kind of way. I mean more in the main relationship in Star Wars is the brotherhood between C3P0 and R2-D2 kind of way. I was expecting, and therefore looking for, the wrong plot line and in the end, the story I ended up reading didn't resemble the one I thought I was going to read at all. As you might imagine - vague disappointment ensued.
You could very well argue that it was my fault to go into something with expectations and assumptions and smugly claim some tripe about making an ass out of you and me - yes yes all of this is true - but really. Who among us buys a book, let alone reads it without at least checking out the back cover? I know I never do. Normally, this isn't a problem but this time I was well and truly burned by the blurb. It turned what I thought would be a fabulous book into an unsatisfying reading experience, but through no fault of the novel itself.
Luckily, there is a happy end to this story. I just re-read it, freed of the false impressions of the previous reading and enjoyed it far better this time. I did enjoy it last time but without that thundercloud of "I've been duped!" hanging over me, this time I was able to fully engage in the brilliance of it. In fact, the difference in reading experience was so striking that it got me wondering if anyone else had ever had this kind of problem before with any other book or if anyone had actually read this book (and synopsis) and had no problems whatsoever. Or have you had this problem and had the chance (or inclination) to re-read the book to see if you could fix the issue?