Yet another example of publishers (or advertisers) trying to shove a book into another book's mold, whether it fits or not - we must sell! Water for EYet another example of publishers (or advertisers) trying to shove a book into another book's mold, whether it fits or not - we must sell! Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus? With blurb nods to two of my all-time favorite books, this book was bound to pale in comparison.
BUT - I did quite like it. It was different. It was itself. It seems more and more writers are using disjointed story lines, and I liked how Macallister used the technique here. As policeman Virgil questions the amazing Arden about her alleged murder of her husband, we flash back to her early life, but we also learn a bit about her past (and his) through their conversation.
So there's historical fiction mixed with fantasy (or perhaps magical realism is more accurate) mixed with mystery mixed with a story about the human spirit. A good combination, and a good solid tale from a debut novelist to watch out for....more
I was so excited for this novel, since Water for Elephants is one of my all time favorites that's been subject to multiple re-reads. I'll start by sayI was so excited for this novel, since Water for Elephants is one of my all time favorites that's been subject to multiple re-reads. I'll start by saying that as is often the case, advertising hype hurt the book. "Think Scottish Downton Abbey," they say. Not even close. It's not that I didn't enjoy it because it wasn't anything like Downton Abbey (except wait, there were rich people and poor people in it - *gasp*), it's that one feels slightly wrong-footed when reading something that isn't what one was led to expect.
That nitpicking out of the way, I must say I enjoyed this one more than Ape House, but not nearly as much as Water for Elephants. It was a great book, but it just didn't have the magic. Probably the best part was the subtle but effective comparison between the mythical Loch Ness monster, the monster of the evil behind the war, and the monster inside of an individual man. The most frustrating thing was the foundations of character relationships that were solidly laid but never really built upon, as well as the relationships that seemed to spring up without foundation. (It felt like the romance element was added because it was expected, though it could have been either eliminated or more realistically done.)
Despite my apparent negativity, I did swing back and forth between 3 and 4 stars (so maybe call it 3.5, though I don't usually do that). There were a lot of great things about this book, and a lot of imperfect things that I probably would overlook from another author, but not from the author of one of the best books I've read in my life. Expectations are a terrible thing....more
This book is worth mentioning for its unique take on alternate lives/time travel. (For my favorite look at alternate lives so far, see My Real ChildreThis book is worth mentioning for its unique take on alternate lives/time travel. (For my favorite look at alternate lives so far, see My Real Children.) Greta is unable to cope with her grief over her twin brother's death and her subsequent breakup with her long-term boyfriend, so she submits to electroshock therapy (or whatever the modern terminology is). Somehow, with each treatment she has, she ends up in 1918 or 1941, where the Greta of that period also has electroshock therapy. The fascinating part is that Greta isn't the same in each timeline. While we only meet the 1985 Greta, it's clear that the other Gretas, while similar in personality and with identical families, are slightly different. My interpretation was that they were all a product of their times - the end of WWI, the beginning of WWII, and in the midst of what Greta treats like a war on AIDs. These events, plus the different tragedies the Gretas face in their own lives, shape them differently, so the same pattern creates a slightly different woman. As the 1980s Greta travels from time to time and evaluates her priorities (and therefore which time she wants to remain in when her treatments are over), it's impossible not to wonder what one would choose in her place.
And speaking of impossible - are her titular lives impossible because they couldn't happen, or because she finds a situation in each one that she finds impossible to live with?
I say it a lot, but that's because I look for books like this and am happy when I find them - thought-provoking stuff!...more