Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme that asks a bookish question each week. You can join in by clicking the link above! This week’s question is:
Which is better (or preferred) … stories with multiple character points of view? Or stories that stick to just one or two at most? And, why?
I really enjoy books where the narrative is told through multiple points of view–in fact, when I hear about a novel that is written through multiple viewpoints, that’s one of the surefire ways to get me to take a closer look at that book! I admire writers who are able to use this technique effectively, because it’s not easy to write with ONE truly authentic character voice, let alone more than one! When I’m reading a book that uses this writing style, it does take me some time to get into the rhythm of each different character’s voice, but if the writer is skilled at this technique it only takes a couple of chapters for everything to fall into place.
For me, the true measure of the success of this writing style is this–when I finish a chapter told by one especially vivid character I’m usually sorry to start a chapter narrated by a different character–and then by then end of THAT chapter I find that I’m liking the new voice as much as I liked the first–and so on! I also find that this is a very intriguing way for writers to reveal bits and pieces of the plot a little at a time, as each character has a different take on what’s going on–and, like the reader, the characters aren’t necessarily going to have all the information either!
Some authors I’ve found who can pull off this off well include Anita Shreve in her novel Testimony, and Jodi Picoult, who has used this technique in many of her books. Picoult actually uses different typefaces for each chapter that’s narrated by a different character, which I find very helpful–especially at the beginning of a book when I’m meeting all the characters for the first time.
What about you? Do you enjoy reading books by authors who use the multiple viewpoint technique? What are some books with multiple viewpoints that you’ve enjoyed? Please share!