My first reading of this author. Definitely a quirky book with many twists and turns, and a few shocking bits of dialogue and inner reflection along t...moreMy first reading of this author. Definitely a quirky book with many twists and turns, and a few shocking bits of dialogue and inner reflection along the way. Interesting satire of modern life, love, and relationships, with a who-done-it twist. I don't think I've ever read a novel where animals played such a role in terms of plot and character, and I really like the descriptions of Gus the goose and Folly, Hugh's dog. I can't say that I was rooting for Matilda, the main character, although the reader does come to understand her suicidal leanings, as her life of superficial relationships and failed family unfolds. Unlike some of the reviewers, I don't think I will reflect too much on this book, as it felt a bit too much like a "theatre of the absurd." But I would seek out the author's other books. Inspiring to see she wrote her first novel at 70!(less)
This book was definitely a mixed bag. While I liked the setting and eye candy of French countryside, and I liked the premise, the writer rushed back t...moreThis book was definitely a mixed bag. While I liked the setting and eye candy of French countryside, and I liked the premise, the writer rushed back to back dramatic incidents and quick backstory for readers as if anticipating super short attention spans, rather then taking the time to develop the characters beyond cliches. The neat resolutions of all the predicaments at the end didn't help either. There were also numerous scenarios that simply did not ring true. Call me old fashioned, but I do not know anyone who would meet a guy on a plane and take him to her mother's wedding...really? Nor get in a car with a complete stranger just because they felt attracted to them, or the fact that they were in...France! Or, get on a boat with young drunk French sailors...really? The supposed rift between the 2 sisters over a drug related high school incident felt forced, and the sum up narration of exchanges, glances, and "so glad I finally met you" type dialogue felt soap opera-esque. The 2 main characters getting married didn't convince me that they belonged together, and the rugged Wyoming man stereotype got old quickly. I can get into a good beach read, but this wasn't it. (less)
Enjoyed this book for its rather amazing simplicity in terms of writing style. The author manages to pack a punch with an economy of words, and has a...moreEnjoyed this book for its rather amazing simplicity in terms of writing style. The author manages to pack a punch with an economy of words, and has a flair for choosing dramatic scenarios which, as some commenters noted, resemble longer novel or even film plots. The main theme to me was the idea of disappearances--that people are either not where they say they are; or are about to be gone; or have died and their existences are reconstructed, for whatever reason. Death or disintegration are equally welcomed or horrific, depending on which story you read, reflecting the author's agility and flair for the nuances of this theme. Literary folk might call this a modern take on existentialism...who cares if we're here or not?
The references to the narrator's "marriage on the brink" in many of the stories is too repetitive and lacks freshness, so that theme might have been better saved for a novel, as the marital strife feels a bit cliche. I loved "Acrobat" and the opening story the best, with a respect for the chilling "Antarctica." The title story, while intriguing, led me to believe there was going to be more of a catharsis between the two sisters, but did a great job evoking a sense of "Miami Heat." The less is more approach definitely reminiscent of Lorrie Moore, although in the end, Moore gets the understatement award.(less)
Mixed feelings on this one. While it was a fairly quick read, I wanted a more original plot and characters, particularly from Anna Quindlen, who I gen...moreMixed feelings on this one. While it was a fairly quick read, I wanted a more original plot and characters, particularly from Anna Quindlen, who I generally love and admire. The premise of moving to the country from New York City and trying to make a new life there ("Baby Boom" style) has been written about so many times, it makes me cringe to see it as the main framework here. The notion of an aging divorcee jilted by her philandering husband is also not new. The main character lacked depth, and so did the man she ends up connecting with, so I didn't care too much. I liked the way her stalled photography career was brought to life, but that was not enough to hold the book together, and the attempts at suspense (weird objects found outside, disappearing love interest after "intense" date...) fell flat. I wish the author had added more depth to all the characters, so we felt more was at stake here. Since the novel felt like it was written in a rush, one more revision with this goal in mind would have made a big difference. I was left feeling indifferent.(less)