September 22, 2020
Exeter, Devon, England

Most internet sites these days where one can post reviews of books and/or movies employ a five-star rating system. Nor do these sites allow a reviewer to award zero stars; the minimum is one. Therefore, 1 star means "I hate this book." For two reasons, I rarely post negative reviews. First, if I was not enjoying a book, then I probably did not finish it, and I do not feel that one has the right to review a book that one has not read cover to cover. Second, I cannot bear to cause any author the emotional distress of having his creation trashed. I can all too easily imagine how humiliating that would be. Usually (and there may be rare exceptions to this rule of mine) the lowest grade I give is two stars, in which case I cite the work's good points and then point of it shortcomings. A two-star rating indicates that I feel that the book or movie in question shows that its creator has talent that yet needs to be developed further. A three-star rating may seem low, but no author or auteur should be ashamed to get such a grade from me. Three stars means “pretty damned good.” Four stars are for outstanding works. Authors to whom I have given four stars include Dick Francis and Eric Ambler. A five-star rating is reserved for such works of pure genius as those created by Jane Austen Vladimir Nabokov, and Lawrence Durrell.