Jennifer's Reviews > The Great Lenore

The Great Lenore by J.M. Tohline
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's review
Jun 28, 2011

really liked it
Read from June 25 to 28, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Before having a chance to receive my copy of the novel, I cheated and perused some of the reviews in anticipation of my own arriving. One in particular I recall having mentioned that this novel is somewhat an homage to the greats of 20th century literature and in reading it, I couldn't help but see the nods to Fitzgerald' s Gatsby, Salinger's Holden Caulfield, let alone the references to Hemingway and Joyce and even Steinbeck. I also could not help but think of Stephen King (albeit a very mild nod) in that the narrator, a writer, finds himself tossed among a world in which he feels he has no part and is struggling with his own demons all the while being thrown about in the storm of another family's demons that he must now maneuver within.

The sense of mystery created and the veils within the story that slowly are un-layered as we pass through are while gauzy in tone, are stylistically well-tuned. We see this played out in the character of Lenore, herself. Not really knowing much of anything about this "great Lenore" until well into the novel, and probably for the best as the more is revealed of her "greatness" the less likable she is to the reader. While the characters hold her up on this pedestal, she truly comes out to be the "femme fatele" and the entire family's and debatably even the narrator's undoing. Rather than a story of this Lenore, it really is a story of family, friendship, betrayal and love and love's undoing.

The premise alone is enough to keep one hooked into reading. Who hasn't had that morbid thought of wondering about their own death and funeral, wishing somehow to be a voyeur of life beyond and the impact one's life may or may not have made on those left in the aftermath? In dramatic fashion, this explores the messiness of life beyond death and demons that may be left to be exorcised to the possible demise of those moving on.

This is a well-done first novel and achieves much where others fail.

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