Well, we have a Moby-Dick winner!
My fellow Harmonian, Scott, has finished the novel, and this is what he has to say about it:
The book reminds me of my great-uncle and aunt's house. It was built in stages, so you are forced to take twisty passages to get from one end of the house to the other. Some rooms open (illogically) onto other rooms. I always wondered about the third set of stairs; they were walled off, and so led nowhere. Still, there are treasures: the view across the river, the rooms full of "stuff" (probably including a copy of Moby-Dick), a great place to rummage on a rainy day.
Like Moby-Dick, the first few rooms/chapters are bright and fun, but confusion sets in once you leave them.
Coincidentally, I received an email update about a new book of Barry Moser portraits, and who should be featured in the advertisement but Herman Melville, looking, as the Wall Street Journal remarks, "put-upon."
Sometimes when I read Moby-Dick, I also feel put-upon, so that makes two of us.
I do not, however, feel put-upon when I read Jane Austen's Persuasion. What a great book. It's like a frothy, sugary, creamy dessert that's actually wholesome and nutritious and moreover improves my IQ.