On July 5 of last year I posted a review of the novel The Bookkeeper’s Daughter by Fareh Iqbal at my blog and also at other websites, including (but not limited to) the American and Canadian Amazon sites as well as Goodreads. While I enjoyed reading this book–and a rating of three out of five stars does not constitute a negative review–I felt that the reading experience was sullied because of the errors that plagued the story. I do not give authors any slack for leaving errors in works that they publish themselves. No work, self-published or not, gets a pass for forgoing editorial scrutiny. I do not hold back on telling it like it is as I review everything I read. If spelling errors, punctuation mistakes or anachronistic nonsense pollute your writing, it ruins the reading experience. In spite of my highfalutin crowing as a self-anointed editor of tyranny, I am not one who only sees the negative in what I read, as I certainly lauded Iqbal with praise in each of her works. Yet if your work is so teeming with editorial gaffes that they overshadow the literary merit, it is time to give your work a thorough overhaul. As I stated in my review of Iqbal’s fourth novel, The Last Romantics, no one may have written or told her that her works were editorial messes, but everyone is thinking it. I can live with being the person who has had to say this.
Apparently Iqbal has taken my advice, or at least some of it. After I posted my review of The Last Romantics, she contacted me with the news that she would be editing all of her works. I am only discovering the edited works now. (I certainly did not expect her to report to me when she had edited them.) I examined all four of her novels and ran my editorial blue comb through each one to see how they had been edited.
I praise Iqbal for following my advice–often to the letter–but wonder why she left so many of the errors in the text of her four novels. In spite of this, I am happy that she corrected most of her mistakes. Any writer who follows good advice to correct past mistakes deserves only praise. I fully intend to delete my past review of The Bookkeeper’s Daughter from all websites and replace it with a rewritten review that accurately reflects its current state. I kept my word and did exactly that when Karen E. Black gave her second novel, Feeling for the Air, a total overhaul. However before I show Iqbal the same fair treatment I wonder if there might be a second edit in the works. I notice that her first three novels are (being) reprinted with totally new front cover designs. Does this mean that their contents will be reworked as well? Will they also be edited more thoroughly? I promise to Iqbal that I will purge every one of my reviews from all fora if their final printed state is more thoroughly edited. Their edited state right now is better than before, but not enough to upgrade my three-star review any higher. I want to champion local authors. I would love to rave about an author that I know. Please give me a work that is a reflection of your boundless imagination and talent. I would love to read it.
The Bookkeeper’s Daughter that I am citing from was edited and reprinted on 17 October 2016. I hereby repeat my original review of The Bookkeeper’s Daughter, and I will show the corrections Iqbal made in red. Errors which were left in remain in black.
Fareh Iqbal, thank-you for fixing your first book. I will soon post editorial assessments for each of her next three novels.
Iqbal did not reprint the acknowledgements page in the edited version, thus left out the editorial credit to her Aunt Jay. This was a considerate move. All errors in the text ultimately are the author’s sole responsibility. I wonder if Aunt Jay had taken any heat for her editorial once-over of the original printing. She may have wished to have had her name left out completely.
The Bookkeeper’s Daughter could have benefited from punctuation placement, as far too many sentences were run-ons. Such lengthy sentences resulted in a wordy pileup once the period was reached. I had to backtrack and read the sentence again slowly, parsing it with a semicolon or comma or dividing it in two. This happened often; why ruin the flow of a lovely story when punctuation is at your service? I am not talking about James Joyce or Jack Kerouac rapid stream-of-consciousness writing, where punctuation is deliberately eschewed. Just two examples where punctuation was necessary are:
“You show me things that I would never be able to see on my own I met Jane Austen!” (p. 180)
–now divided into two sentences: “You show me things that I would never be able to see on my own. I met Jane Austen!”
and then on the next page:
“Ray kept her eyes squeezed shut maybe it would be easier to say this without looking at him.” (p. 181)
–now “Ray kept her eyes squeezed shut, maybe it would be easier to say this without looking at him.”
The comma does not help the problem since it is incorrect punctuation. The above are but two examples; I did not reread the novel to monitor other run-on sentences that I did not cite in my original review.
Various errors with the dreaded apostrophe:
“It felt like something out of a Dickens’ novel.” (p. 13). No apostrophe is needed here at all.
–now corrected to Dickens
“It wasn’t’t just about Christmas and snow…” (p. 25)
“…Eleanor had closed up the place, abandoning the memories it held, hired a nanny and moved to her parent’s grand estate in London.” (p. 27). I see this error even in works put out by large publishing houses. We are talking about both parents here, of course, so the word should be parents’.
–I do not understand why Iqbal took most of my advice yet ignored the rest. She left the incorrect form parent’s.
“There aren’t any Mormon’s here…” (p. 54). A case of greengrocer’s apostrophe.
“It’s sleek silver exterior glittered in the soft light…” (p. 205). No! Any editor would have caught this.
Plus some errors with spelling:
“Patches of sunlight winked through the braches of sturdy oak trees…” (p. 63). Braches is a word in its own right. It’s the plural of brach, which means a hound bitch.
“…the knight errants and their creators.” (p. 71). The plural of knight-errant is knights-errant.
–In this edit Iqbal created another error instead of fixing it in the first place. Her new line reads “…the knight-errants and their creators.” This reads as awkwardly as faux plurals sister-in-laws and governor-generals: both of which are wrong.
References to half-way and Halfway on adjacent lines. (p. 109)
–now both rendered as one word.
“Another crack of thunder resounded followed by lighting…” (p. 123). Should be lightning.
“I just can’t seem to find the time and with the holidays they’re all these expectations and stuff…” (p. 140). Should be there’re.
“James titled her chin up…” (p. 141)