The entire first chapter was written in past tense and in what is called "Telling". One of the biggest rules of writing is to SHOW DON'T TELL which means do not tell me that Barry does not want to go out to dinner, Ms Rowling. Paint me a picture with words of him slouched in a chair, holding his keys, and looking reluctant to get up and leave with his wife. He has a headache? Don't TELL me. Show me wiping sweat off his brow. Show me him groaning. Show me him rubbing his forehead. Make me feel like I am there.
The first chapter was boring and so badly written I almost found it hard to believe that JK Rowling, my idol for over ten years, wrote it. What happened? Where did that spark go? If I posted that first chapter for critique on the internet I would be told to rewrite the whole thing from scratch. It irritated me so much I almost felt like rewriting it myself simply because I wanted to read a better version of it!
Why is it so bad? Obviously, it's not my cuppa tea. But I'm wondering if it's JK Rowling's, either. I think she's writing out of her genre. Her talent lies in fantasy and I think she needs to go back to what she does best. Why not write an adult fantasy novel? I can understand her desire to do something so radically different after being hand cuffed to HP for so many stressful long years. I really can. But this book is bad. There was nothing to hook me in the first opening 50 pages. It's boring and I quickly lost track of who the characters were.
Go back to writing fantasy, JK Rowling. Let your imagination sour. And write a better opening hook next time!