I notice only in retrospect that the title of my last post did not do justice to the content. Or at least that it anticipated content that was not there. In my rush to expose Leberret and Frome as attention-seeking poseurs, with the combined literary talent of a potted lobster, I neglected to mention that there is a history of ‘coincidences’ such as theirs – and that we should hesitate before slamming them. After all, what does it matter that two stories start in the same way, so long as they go on to explore different avenues? As a child, I was never consciously frustrated by ‘once upon a time’: it was but a familiar diving board from which writers would stage a range of eccentric dives.
Now, unless Leberret and Frome have mastered the art of synchronised diving, the similarity of their opening lines shouldn’t bother us one bit. And here, I think we can safely say, the argument ends. Though their novels are equally bad, their plotlines share as many features as a crab and a cloud. Even then, though, I wonder if I would have a problem. One can steal a plot and still write a completely different story.