At last, I have found insight into the literary agent's thought process. I picked up Joanna Scott's Liberation at the public library, and suddenly all is made clear.
How did I select this one? As usual, I opened to the book flap, where the story's premise is laid out. First thing I notice is that the novel is historical fiction, just my cuppa tea, so I read further. A child in Italy at the time of liberation, and later an adult in New Jersey - sounds like it has the potential to be an intriguing book. The adult's narrative might even use flashbacks to present the story, and I'm fine with that device. I like literary fiction, far more than commercial drek, and I'm still on a literary buzz from The Widow of the South. Home we go.
Opening with the little girl hidden in a cupboard while the British and French forces slog it out with the Nazis, the author does many pages of navel gazing, but I'm willing to push ahead to the good stuff.
Fast forward to the present, and the child is now an old woman having a heart attack. Read the words, man, get on with it, you can do it, get past the slow parts and....slower....slower still....grinding to a halt....can't take it anymore.
After 27 pages of contemplation that are boring as hell, I have given up. This is labeled literary fiction, but it is just a bunch of words strung together to make pretty rhythmic sounds that go nowhere. I don't care about the characters. If the old woman were to die right now, it would be a blessing. Put an end to the suffering.
The flap copy was the query. It caught my eye. The manuscript, however, was not right for my list.