This isn't a loaded question, or even a thinly veiled excuse for a rant, I promise. I genuinely want, nay, need your views on this.
I'm currently reading a range of titles with a view to recommendation in the Summer Reads pages of the July issue of Chase Magazine. Even though I was hooked by the blurb, barely a few chapters into one novel, I discounted it. It was sprinkled with grammatical errors. At first I'd hoped they were typos which the publisher might pick up in the next print run. But the mistakes were too consistent; the author didn't understand the correct usage of apostrophes and capital letters, to name but a few examples.
This isn't me being a pedant or feeling superior (I'm constantly reaching for The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and toss and turn at night in fear of typos in my own writing) it's just that mistakes of this kind ruin the reader experience for me. You see, I start to picture the writer sitting at their desk which takes me away from the world of the characters in which I want to be immersed. In the case of apostrophes used to denote a plural noun, I'm looking for what the noun is 'possessing' and not what the noun is 'doing', and it's confusing. It spoils my read.
However, regarding this particular novel, there is much to commend the plot. The section I read made me smile and choke in equal measure which is a good barometer of potential enjoyment. And so, after closing the book early and stomping downstairs to the kettle, it occurred to me that I might enjoy this story if I could get beyond the mistakes. Moreover, it may be that other readers are perfectly able to do this, losing themselves in the story - mistakes included. Maybe by not featuring these books on my review pages, I am depriving the readers of a novel which they might love?
My question is this: do you, as readers, manage to gloss over a writer's errors and still stay engrossed in the story? If the answer is yes, then I feel I need to re-address my book reviewing criteria. I'm not saying I will say a book is wonderful if I don’t feel it is - I only review books I enjoy, preferring to spread the love, rather than ruin the day for a fellow writer whose work may simply not be to my taste – but I might try to push further on into the novel before discounting it on account of sloppy presentation. If the answer is no, then I shall continue in much the same vein as I do now.
I'd love to know your thoughts!