is this book a great candidate for romance novel bingo? absolutely. it's got all sorts of absurdities that only happen in Romance Plots but the bottomis this book a great candidate for romance novel bingo? absolutely. it's got all sorts of absurdities that only happen in Romance Plots but the bottom line is, sometimes it's worth glossing over all the overused tropes because this is a really well-executed rendition of them. it is sassy and cute and FUN and sometimes you just need a little cotton candy in your life. ...more
i'm about 50 years too late for this book, alas. at the time it would have been scandalous (and even to modern eyes it still reads like the plot to ai'm about 50 years too late for this book, alas. at the time it would have been scandalous (and even to modern eyes it still reads like the plot to a soap opera) but now it mostly feels familiar and well-trod, just another small massachusetts town that seems placid on the surface but roils with darkness and buried skeletons underneath.
pros: a huge cast of characters that are all equally nuanced, each given their fair share of judgment and empathy; some really extraordinary prose; a brisk pace that moves the narrative through several years so that you never feel bored
cons: the usual 50s sensibilities and moralities; a lot of language that was acceptable at the time but is wildly offensive now; a "main" character (in that at least half the book is told from her point of view) who is both deeply unlikeable and deeply boring; some implied things about sexual violence and mental illness that are absurdly offensive but glossed over
honestly, this book was made into both a movie (1957) and a soap opera (1964-69) and i honestly think you might be better served watching one of those than reading the actual book if it weren't for the prose itself, which is really pretty great. but if great prose isn't enough to sell you on it, let yourself off the hook and watch the movie. (disclaimer: i have not seen either movie or tv series but lana turner's in the movie so that's got to be worth something, right?) ...more
this really should be 3.5 stars; if i wasn't so burned out on Rich White People Problems i'd round up but as it was my sympathy for rich kids who pretthis really should be 3.5 stars; if i wasn't so burned out on Rich White People Problems i'd round up but as it was my sympathy for rich kids who pretend to "live poor" so they can feel like they're a part of the working class while simultaneously using their parents' money to pay bills so they can work on their great american novel is...stretched very thin, let's say. there's a lot of themes at play here: wealth and class across multiple generations, what makes a marriage work, what constitutes success, what defines self-worth. the problem is that both edgar and fern (the parents) are not nearly as interesting as nine year old cricket but the story is 85% edgar and fern and maybe only 10% cricket (the last 5% is for background on edgar and fern's respective parents.) ausubel's prose is really gorgeous and if you don't mind the undercurrents of white privilege (with a very brief moment of blatant cultural appropriation?) then ausubel's writing is definitely worth a try....more