rachel's Reviews > In a Country of Mothers

In a Country of Mothers by A.M. Homes
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's review
Oct 23, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: own, 2010
Read from October 23 to 29, 2010

My experience with A.M. Homes books is that they are a weird combination of 1.) scandalous, 2.) boring, and 3.) sometimes wonderful on a line by line basis, good for that one shot observation that you could have given the same words to if only you'd been smart enough to think of it first.

Exhibit for 1.) All of The End of Alice.
Exhibit for 2.) Also, somehow, all of The End of Alice, since the characters never seemed real at all to me and thus, the whole narrative was like "ennui eating scabs ennui leaking shit ennui pedophilia".
Exhibit for 3.) The part in In a Country of Mothers where twenty-four year old Jody, uninterested in having sex any longer with the man she is currently having sex with, turns her head around to tell him no and "no longer cares if this makes her look like she has two or three chins".

In fact, I was so delighted by #3 that I began to notice and to enjoy A.M. Homes' brand of feminism, which is far from preachy and rarely fulfilled or executed by her characters. Her tactic of mentioning repeatedly, but not commenting on, the fact that Claire has an unspoken expectation to provide her family of blissfully unhampered men and boys with food and schedules is great, because a woman's domestic responsibility often is assumed and yet not made mention of. I felt Claire's exhaustion without any commentary.

I know it sounds like I really enjoyed this one, especially compared to Homes' other work. And that's true, to an extent. I never thought I'd say this, given #1 above, but I reaaaally wanted this to be a little crazier than it was. If there's any author I'd rely on to make things a little crazy, it's A.M. Homes. This book let me down by having only a smattering of psychosis, even though the leg-in-heels on the front cover teased me with the possibility of a Sharon Stone/Glenn Close/SWF twist. Eh, it only cost $1. I don't regret spending that.
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Reading Progress

10/26/2010 page 60
21.0% "Why do I pick up books about women in therapy and then get annoyed by how neurotic everyone is? It makes no sense. Anyway, unless this gets better, AM Homes is running 0-for-2 with me."
10/28/2010 page 184
64.0% "Conceding that I am enjoying this, a novel by AM Homes. And now I kind of want to read the rest of her work, and reread The End of Alice. Although that is a task that should not be taken lightly."
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Mariel (new)

Mariel "3.) sometimes wonderful on a line by line basis, good for that one shot observation that you could have given the same words to if only you'd been smart enough to think of it first."

I know exactly what you mean by this. Sometimes a book will grow to be better than it really was in my mind because a line had influenced me so much. Then I'll reread it years later and wonder what the hell I was thinking.

message 2: by rachel (last edited Oct 29, 2010 05:10PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

rachel Right? It's tough not to separate an interesting perspective or a solid observations from everything else that makes a good book, and it's easy to be convinced that "No, wait, I totally HAVE been enjoying this all along!" when you do come across that gem of a sentence. What are your bad books that you've almost been fooled into liking?

Along the same lines, deciding whether I want to give a book 2 stars or 3 stars is the hardest. They both point to "meh" but to different degrees. How much was I actually swayed by the little good things?

message 3: by Mariel (new)

Mariel A lot of Elizabeth Bowens books are like that. The Death of the Heart is my favorite but her other books like The Little Girls and Eva Trout. I loved her psychological anlyses so much that it is hard to forget that they are almost nonstories. I couldn't tell you the point of it all if I tried. And all the Douglas Adams books. Amusing and fun, but books with no middle whatsoever.

rachel Huh. I've been wanting to read Elizabeth Bowen. The Death of the Heart is a good place to start? I've heard that you probably should have some patience & focus to absorb it too.

message 5: by Mariel (new)

Mariel I think it is all how you look at things. If you love staring at people and over- analyzing you 'll love it.

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