While short, this book took me a while to read, really because it failed to draw me in. It has a simple plot. As I mentioned before, it goes through the stories of each of the Rackrent heirs– how they came to inherit the estate, how they managed it, and how they died, leaving it to the next heir. The narrator is a servant of the Rackrents who seems to really love the Rackrents, although why he does is completely inexplicable given that we see all of their worst traits through his narration.
Well, given that all of the Rackrents have glaring flaws, I didn’t really care for any of them. I especially disliked the one who locked his Jewish wife in her room for years on end because she refused to give him a very expensive cross she owned. I felt kind of bad for her because she was being mistreated, but it struck me as very odd that, upon learning of her husband’s death, she kisses it joyfully. I found myself wondering what the author was trying to say here in having a Jewish woman show such affection for a Christian symbol. Anyway, the point is that this little plot point was really the only highlight of the book for me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s very hard for me to enjoy a book where I don’t like or even care about any of the characters.
I’m glad this book was short because I got bored with it towards the end. It wasn’t really a bad read, but, apart from the historical importance it must have, I didn’t see much in it. 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die said that “the ironic comedy of the old butler’s tale is easy to appreciate.” Well, I don’t know about that because I must have missed it.