Posted by: Sally Ingraham | June 3, 2010

Tender Morsels

tender morselsby Margo Lanagan

A brief bit about this book. It was my first pick for our Non-Structured Book Group, and I had specific reasons that I picked it. First of all, it sounded good. For much of my life as a reader I have enjoyed fantasy, and specifically re-workings of fairy tales. Based on a few good reviews of the book, it seemed like this was a well done re-envisioning of the tale Snow White and Rose Red, which I appreciated because it’s a lesser known fairy tale.

I’ve been having trouble with this genre lately though – YA Fantasy, to be specific – and have been finding it increasingly less engaging. In the last year or so, I’ve picked up and then put back more than a few titles with an unhappy sigh while browsing at the library, and the few books that have made it home have more often than not been set aside. I’m not entirely sure why this is. I believe that if a book is well written and compelling, I will enjoy it no matter what the topic, be it unicorns, magic harps, or Parisian apartment buildings. Perhaps I’ve just been picking up a bad crop of books lately. Or perhaps my tastes are in fact shifting.

In spite of my confused feelings about the matter, I went ahead and picked this book for our group read because I knew that as much as it might challenge me, it would challenge other members of the group. And crossing my fingers, I hoped that we would all find it to be something great.

Unfortunately, not.

I did not particularly care for this book. The list of things I didn’t like about it far out-weighs the list of things I liked. Content wise, I found my sensibilities only mildly offended. My problems had more to do with the mish-mash of ideas about how the story was presented. And perhaps just the mish-mash of ideas. I’d rather not say more. There are many reviews of this book out there, both glowing and dismal, and my reluctance to post about it – a peevish kind of irritation in regards to it that has chased me through the weekend – has culminated in a refusal to post anything coherent about it.

For a particularly great comparison of reviews within our own small group, I will point you to Emily’s review for some really thoughtful insights, and Richard’s for a bluntness of feelings that I find admirable and justified. Regardless of my own disappointment and my bemused acceptance of my less than awesome choice for our group read, it’s still been an interesting experience.

Coming at the end of June will be our discussion of Moo Pak by Gabriel Josipovici, a book that I am looking forward to a lot! 🙂


  1. I haven’t read this, but I’ve found that for my real-life book club, the books we don’t like tend to produce the best discussion. It’s been interesting to find that almost all of you who read this one didn’t think it was all that great, which was certainly counter to many other bloggers’ opinions. Having read through all of your thoughts, I think this is a book I can safely skip!

    • Yes, the discussion has certainly been interesting! I definitely wouldn’t recommend this book, but plenty of other people have so that’s saying something. Personal taste is an even weirder thing than I imagined. I should have liked this book! Hmm…

  2. I’m kind of shocked that of the whole group, I seem to have liked this book best! Who would have thought?

    Never fear, Sarah – at least Tender Morsels is relatively short. I’m the one who suggested UNDSET!

    • Haha, it all leads back to Undset! It is somewhat gratifying to me that you at least really delved into the book and found so much to think about. I couldn’t find the energy within myself, but I so appreciated your thoughts. 🙂

  3. I read this one recently too (sort of coincided with your book group). I thought it was okay, but it didn’t live up to my expectation too. A pity.

    • It had so much potential! A pity indeed that it didn’t work for us.

  4. My disappointment with this book was primarily that it had such a great premise and the prose was said to be beautiful. The two big problems for me was that it was way too long and was written as YA.

    Kind of interesting that most of the reviews out there either absolutely loved Tender Morsels or strongly disliked it.

    • It would be interesting to see what this book might have been like, had it been written with adults in mind. Although the marketing of the book as YA wasn’t totally Lanagan’s idea. Anyway, it’s probably time for me to start exploring adult fantasy fiction, but I’ve always been mildly scared of it! 🙂

  5. I appreciated your choice, Sarah, because I normally don’t turn to YA or fantasy, and I felt it expanded my horizons. Maybe in ways that didn’t need so much expansion (rape, bestiality, incest, etc) still, it was interesting. I liked her vocabulary…I liked picking up the pieces of Red Rose and her sister…I’m not sorry I read it.

    I am rather in awe of Richard’s ability to just lay things out as he see them, however. Do you suppose he could teach me some assertiveness training? 🙂

    • Haha, everyone could use a little more straightforwardness in their lives! I’m glad that you and Emily and others got something worthwhile out of the reading experience. That expansion of horizons was what I was hoping for when I picked it – although, as you say, perhaps not in this exact way!

      • I don’t read much adult fantasy but Lord of the Rings definitely lives up to the hype.

  6. Despite not caring for it, glad to have read it, Sarah. It is interesting that none of us particularly cared for it when so many loved it but maybe that is why we all read together? Just floated together. Richard and the girls. Very satisfying to me – both our blog and off-blog discussions. No matter what the book. As a matter of fact, I have the most fun with the ones we hate! 🙂

    • Yes, it is immensely satisfying to have found a group of people who share such close and yet expansive reading tastes – continually expanding, even if some reading picks send us dashing back to more familiar ground in a quick hurry!

  7. Sarah, soooo sorry but I couldn’t finish it. Actually, I could if I willed myself. But after a few pages just found myself skimming. Yikes. And I love YA fantasy! I’m sure my tastes haven’t shifted. Just didn’t gel with the writing here. Ultimately, it still boils down to the writing.

  8. […] over the course of two days. This was my second personal addition to our reading list, and unlike my first pick (which sparked several discussions of varying ferocity, and which no one in our group liked very […]

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