I picked up a 'Grab Bag' labelled Historical Mysteries at the small local library in the Island town I now reside in. I like historical mysteries and I settled down to read one of the books with quiet anticipation. Set in the early 1800's England, I was hoping for something along the line of the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. I won't name the book in hand but unfortunately consternation soon ensued.
I've come across, and read, books that have a List of Characters in the first pages (sometimes as many as three or four pages) but at least there is a place to refer to. As I began to read, I soon became dismayed as one character after another was introduced and then abandoned. It became apparent that there were also several storylines. A brief Chapter one of three and a half pages made three characters known but, making up for lost time, Chapter two, in a different setting in England brought to life seven more characters, with descriptions of their appearance and attire. My fingers twitched for a pencil and notepad as I admitted to myself that I was losing track. Which characters were merely passing through the chapter and which persons, their quirks and alliances, should I attempt to imprint on my memory.
Before I started Chapter three, it was starting to feel like a University exercise and since I have engaged in that activity sufficiently, I closed the book. It was only Page 9.
I've heard that people who attempt to read War and Peace, have similar difficulties. Wikipedia indicates some three dozen characters with Russian names that may be difficult to assimilate. I definitely feel wimpy about my fragile effort but console myself that there are so many books and so little time.