In the Amazon blurbs, Lisa Jewell is compared to Liane Moriarty, and I think the comparison is pretty accurate, though LM is a better and more humorouIn the Amazon blurbs, Lisa Jewell is compared to Liane Moriarty, and I think the comparison is pretty accurate, though LM is a better and more humorous writer overall. But I'm not here to talk about LM, I'm here to write my little review of The House We Grew Up In, so here goes: it was lovely and tragic and ended happily ever after--and there is nothing wrong with that, by God, especially after the last depressing, frustrating, ridiculous novel I read which was a load of unlikely events wrapped in a thick layer of cultural elitism and smug self-satisfaction--but there I go again, wandering off-course. I'm still so dismayed by that stupid book, you know, which was, incredibly, short-listed for the Mann-Booker Prize. Lisa Jewell writes what I guess could be called women's fiction and will never be nominated for the Mann Booker but is a breath of fresh air none the less. I stayed up until 2 AM reading THWGUI, which to me is a good sign that I'm reading a good book. Like most interesting fiction, it's centered around a dysfunctional family and each member's struggle to come to terms with their issues and, ultimately,move on. I like people who overcome their problems and move on, don't you? Wallowing in chaos and self-pity gets boring. Even Lorelei, the crazy mother in THWGUI, is happy in her chaos, she makes it work for her and she is able to acknowledge that her actions have hurt her family without feeling sorry for herself; Ms. Jewell does a fine job of detailing Lorelei's rationalizations for her behavior. And, in the end, she makes a valiant attempt to pull herself together. This novel made sense to me, I liked and felt sympathy for everyone in it, and I'm going to be reading more by the author. ...more
This novel was as sweet and bland as a sugar cookie. Rather disappointing, since I liked The Red Tent very much and loved The Last Days of Dogtown. IThis novel was as sweet and bland as a sugar cookie. Rather disappointing, since I liked The Red Tent very much and loved The Last Days of Dogtown. I suppose that an 85 year old woman, looking back over her life and describing it to a grand-daughter, might gloss over many things, such as anti-Semitism, abortion, murder, the deaths of loved ones, poverty, etc etc--but then it just reads like a cozy little fairy tale, full of lovely anecdotes about best friends and delightful vacations. Personally I never got a sense of "what made Addie who she is today" since she seemed so removed from the bad things (remarkably few) that happened to her or people she knew. It's all sunshine and rainbows and happily-ever-after. Addie gets herself an education, a few jobs, and a man, The End. Don't get me wrong, I hope that I live to be 85 with all my faculties intact, and can sit on the porch with a (step)grandchild and blather on about the old days with no bitterness, sorrow, or regret. Somehow, though, I imagine I'll be more like the crazy old cat lady screeching "get off my lawn!" and shaking my cane in a threatening manner, then stumping back into my crumbling old house to brood and curse the river of time. ...more
This is chick-lit at its steamy, cliche-ridden best, full of improbable twists of fate and a tooth-achingly saccharine ending--so why did I like it soThis is chick-lit at its steamy, cliche-ridden best, full of improbable twists of fate and a tooth-achingly saccharine ending--so why did I like it so much? Is my brain turning to mush as I approach my 50th birthday? Am I going to cut my hair sensibly short and start wearing my reading glasses on a beaded chain, cat-themed clothing, and Crocs? God, i hope not. I liked this book because it was well-written, and because Lily, who started out seeming like the typical shrinking-violet, unnoticeable-until-she-takes-her-glasses-off, loyal BFF/servant of the beautiful, immoral Budgie, actually showed quite a bit of spark and class. She could have hidden herself away and moped and mooned and cried and whined when Budgie and Nick turned up at the beach, but she didn't. She fixed herself a G&T, lit a cigarette, and held her head up. Well done....more
I wanted to like this better, but I just couldn't bring myself to care about either Vivien--a woman whose life essentially stopped in 1906 when her maI wanted to like this better, but I just couldn't bring myself to care about either Vivien--a woman whose life essentially stopped in 1906 when her married lover disappeared during an earthquake--and Claire, a bland 1960s suburban housewife who inexplicably has an affair. Both women, in fact, seemed oddly passionless and utterly conventional, yet they dropped trou for total strangers without a care in the world. Claire's big thing with Miles was that he listened to her but I never heard her think or say a single interesting thing. I guess we are just supposed to imagine her rich interior life and glittering intelligence? Hard to do when she seemed mainly preoccupied with interior decorating, hors d'oeuvres recipes, and Jackie Kennedy. There was also no explanation for what it was in Vivien that would make her agree to go to a hotel with a married man after one date, keeping in mind that the year was 1919 and good girls just didn't. Was Vivien a bad girl, a closet suffragette, a frustrated Bohemian wild child chafing under the constraints of Society? No. No, she wasn't. She was a school teacher.
The "connection" between these two women turned out to be not so earth-shattering and in fact was kind of pointless. I suppose the deathbed words of wisdom uttered by one of them to the other was meant to be the grand finale of life-changing events but it fell with a dull thud on my uninterested ears. ...more
I have read and enjoyed some of Diane Chamberlain's other offerings, but this one failed utterly to engage me. The characters were too tormented, sainI have read and enjoyed some of Diane Chamberlain's other offerings, but this one failed utterly to engage me. The characters were too tormented, saintly, and beautiful, the plot lines were rather ridiculous, and the so-called secrets weren't terribly surprising or interesting. There was a lot of sex which is what I guess chicks go for in their chick lit, I don't know, this isn't my usual genre. It didn't bother me and was a better filler than, say, a dissertation on 18th century politics. I read this back-to-back with another Chamberlain clunker, Brass Ring, another mistake. I have now had my fill of chick lit for another year, at least....more
I stopped reading this about halfway through to read something else, which should tell you something about its ability to hold a reader's attention. HI stopped reading this about halfway through to read something else, which should tell you something about its ability to hold a reader's attention. However, I did finish it and the second half of the book was somewhat more interesting than the first, hence three stars instead of only two.
I freely admit that I know hardly anything about this particular subject matter---slave mistresses of white masters--but...I'm just sceptical. The book took place in America, not the French court, and I have trouble believing that any plantation owner's wife would be so accepting of her husband's dalliances with a slave as Fran Drayle was. The whole premise seemed only superficially researched to me, and that, coupled with vague and sometimes inaccurate historcal referrences, made this a put-downable book. What saved it for me was Lizzie's surprising decision in the end; it lent her character a certain nobility and resolve that up til then was somewhat lacking....more
This was Dominick Dunne's last novel before he died and I'm sorry to say it was rather a weak effort. I greatly enjoyed his other novels so was exciteThis was Dominick Dunne's last novel before he died and I'm sorry to say it was rather a weak effort. I greatly enjoyed his other novels so was excited to pick this one up but alas, I finished it with a deep feeling of ennui and, almost, distaste. The name-dropping was rampant and rather vulgar and the story went nowhere. I have previously liked reading about New York society as Mr. Dunne viewed it, from "inside the aquarium" as it were, but Too Much Money bordered on cariacture and the "rich people", both old-money and new, came across as even more shallow and money-and-status-obssessed than they probably are. Overall, a frivolous book....more