One of the first rejections I had for BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU was from an agent who had read the customary first three chapters (that's what you send them) and who responded along the lines of 'I like your writing a lot, but I can't bear to spend any more time with this annoying man and his patient wife.'
And last week I met another writer who had read the book, and who said she and her friend were annoyed by the wife (Fran). They wanted her to leave Sol. Sol himself is a Marmite character - you love him or you hate him. You 'get' him or you don't. Another agent, who almost took me on, said "I ADORE Sol." (Yes - she used the caps.)
For the last three weeks I've been watching a character I now find very annoying - Lorelai in Gilmore Girls on Netflix. The programme is new to me. It's about a fast-talking, attractive, sassy, 32 year old single mother. She has an extremely close and loving relationship with her teenage daughter, but a fractured relationship with her snooty parents. For the first half of the first series I liked Lorelai. I thought she was funny and clever and attractive, and a good mother. Then I began to find her juvenile and petty and I wanted to shout at her and tell her to stop trying to be so damn clever in everything she said in her long witty diatribes. Also, I wanted her to be nicer to her parents, whose values are very different, but who do their best, and who love her granddaughter very much, and who obviously try to love her, too.
So why do I watch it every night when she sometimes makes me want to scream? It's a warm, engaging programme with other likable characters, especially the guy I think she is going to end up with eventually, and it's set in small town America. I'm a sucker for small town America in fiction - Lake Wobegon, Bedford Falls - though I don't know how I would feel living there for real. These are some reasons, and the Carole King theme tune is a winner, but I am still pondering.