Didn't work for me at all. Muriel Spark could have written the shit out of a story with these elements: a beautiful costume designer who pretends to bDidn't work for me at all. Muriel Spark could have written the shit out of a story with these elements: a beautiful costume designer who pretends to be ugly after her best friend commits suicide because (he claims) she doesn't love him; an unattractive, lovesick pianist whose compositions turn out to be literally mind-altering; a fragile woman who had once been kidnapped and kept in a coffin for three days and who owns a pottery shop where she sells awful pieces of pottery by carefully breaking them beforehand and then restoring them, so that when customers pick up the piece, it shatters in their hands and they think they've broken it (and then she cries until they buy it as per the store's You Break It, You Buy It policy); a former police officer who was injured in the previous woman's rescue operation and now works as a security guard at a nursing home, where residents conspire to stage fights among themselves so that he can break them up and feel useful; and poison pen letters from beyond the grave, in which the dead friend explains that one among their number is a confessed murderer who is planning to kill again.
So, I mean, I'd happily read about that zaniness, if it had been written in, say, a cold-blooded, cutting-edge tone. I don't mind surreal, I don't mind sitcom-y levels of characterization, I don't mind absurd, I don't mind magical realism. But this book was never consistent when it came to levels of absurdity, levels of reality, or emotional coherence. Characters just jumped to whatever conclusion was necessary to serve the facile story.
The group of friends here? There was no evidence of them being friends, aside telling-not-showing, and them often being in the same room as one another. There was no emotional depth.
There was also no intellectual depth. There are way deeper conversations about beauty and about attraction to be had than what is presented in this book. I was expecting something harder, more complicated, or at the very least funnier.
Easily the worst book I've finished this year, and I sure hope I don't read a worse one in the next few months....more
"This marriage is not all my fault. You stood in front of that Elvis impersonator with me."
I love a good Desire (lower levels of dickishness than Pres"This marriage is not all my fault. You stood in front of that Elvis impersonator with me."
I love a good Desire (lower levels of dickishness than Presents, but still with a good amount of drama and emotional turbulence, and lots of negotiation regarding boundaries and relationships), and this one was a delight. And it's a contemporary marriage of convenience that makes sense! Okay, so the initial reason for their Las Vegas quickie marriage two years ago was one of the silliest things I've ever read in a romance (they made a Grown-Up Pact...no, seriously, that's what they called it), but since I didn't have to suffer through a tedious prologue or any actual scenes of their Las Vegas hijinks, I forgave Cantrell that. And lucky me, because Cantrell has a great, humorous voice, and the story was so engaging. Corporate espionage at high-end fashion houses! Hitting the beats of a good MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE story but twisting them as well! It never descended into the stereotypical depths of manipulation and antagonism it could have, which was pleasing. I really enjoyed the give-and-take between the two protagonists, who tended toward solid cooperativeness, even when their insecurities got in the way....more
I was expecting more corpses. For the majority of the book, there was only the one. And, like, I'm not saying I'm not bothered by one corpse, but theI was expecting more corpses. For the majority of the book, there was only the one. And, like, I'm not saying I'm not bothered by one corpse, but the title had me assuming that there'd be more, and that we'd be tripping over them much sooner. That disconnect was probably the major influence in my finding the book slow, and the fault was probably all on me.
So, investigating some strangeness surrounding a much-changed childhood friend, Dandy goes undercover as a teacher (!! Dandy!! a teacher!!) at a girls school. St. Columba's is possibly the only place that could rival Hogwarts in the Scottish boarding school league tables for mysterious disappearances, unqualified teachers, and no one learning anything useful ever.
McPherson writes such tangled and interesting plots, and she's great at intriguing scenes where you know there's this huge clue lurking between the lines but you can't quite put your finger on it. She has a ridiculously, jealousy-inducingly witty voice, and I like Dandy and her investigative skills a lot. The other recurring characters I like less, and I wish for a little less sexism or for more of it to get called out, but for the most part, I continue to really enjoy this series....more
So Jane Casey's currently the only author whose U.K. releases I make a point of going out of my way to buy, because I'm that hooked on the series andSo Jane Casey's currently the only author whose U.K. releases I make a point of going out of my way to buy, because I'm that hooked on the series and the U.S. editions don't come out for AN ENTIRE YEAR LATER. And after this installment, I'm once again counting down until I can read the next one.
After the Fire isn't quite as expertly rendered as the last book, The Kill, but Casey is shaping up to be quite the virtuoso when it comes to POV and tight writing. She's always had a good handle on fascinating, complicated characters, and so naturally, once again, Maeve and Josh Derwent are fascinating, complicated, flawed, and each other's greatest/worst allies, and it's wonderful to read. Maeve's nuanced points of view of the other characters, her uncomfortable shifting through the emotional debris of her life, and the way she has to deal with negotiating sexism & being a woman in a sexist workplace are some of the series' greatest strengths, and this book was no exception....more
Beautiful. So, while forced to shelter with other elderly women during a hurricane (she had wanted to be left in her home to drown and die alone), MarBeautiful. So, while forced to shelter with other elderly women during a hurricane (she had wanted to be left in her home to drown and die alone), María Sirena sets the story of her life--her loves, her family myths--aflame. If, like me, you could read forevermore about how stories and storytelling are like the connective tissue of history and how that's all so messy and wonderful and awful, then you might like this book. I thought the story dragged in the middle, but the final third was riveting and made me cry. I don't think they're similar in style or complexity, but Acevedo's treatment of the terror-born touchstone of mothers and their children reminded me a bit of Toni Morrison....more