Lisa Vegan's Reviews > No One You Know

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond
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Jun 02, 09

bookshelves: fiction, gr-a, reviewed, novel, san-francisco, favorites, aaalt, lt-a
Recommended for: all those who appreciate a good novel, Michelle Richmond fans
Read in September, 2008

It’s official: I am a huge fan of Michelle Richmond’s writing style, and of her storytelling, and especially the characters she creates and the subject matter she chooses. My admiration for her The Year of Fog was not a fluke; I was wowed by this book also. (I plan to read her other older published novel and book of short stories, and any other writing she creates that I can get my hands on.)

In this novel the author has profound truths to say about stories, life, and loss, and I don’t think I’m using hyperbole by claiming that.

It was written beautifully and includes more than a smattering of incredibly lovely sentences. If I hadn’t been so eager to keep reading I’d have given in to the temptation to note a couple of them so I’d remember them long after reading the book.

On page 196 of this book there’s a very, very funny reference to her previous novel The Year of Fog, done without naming its title, showing an impeccable sense of humor but not deserving of the jabs she took at that book, in my opinion. Having that passage in this book gave wonderful comic relief for those readers who have already read her The Year of Fog.

I guess these two books are mysteries of a sort, although I have them tagged as fiction. I realize that the books I have tagged as mystery are generally those that are part of a mystery series and these are stand alone novels, but they are literary mysteries.

My main gripe was that while reading this book many times I wanted to call out: No, don’t go there alone. No, don’t confront that person yourself. I’m not sure that those parts of the story were flawed; it may be that it’s just that in some circumstances I’m a complete wimp and overly cautious.

But overall, this was a very satisfying read. I really love how in her novels I learn all sorts of new things about the world, something that I don’t find in all fiction. (In The Year of Fog it was photography and memory; in this book it was coffee and mathematics.)

This book has made me think a great deal about the stories I've told and tell myself about my own history and about my own life. It's a very thought provoking read.

Addendum: I just got hold of a paperback edition of this book and it has a particularly good reader’s guide in the back. In addition to the commonly added discussion questions, which are excellent here, there’s other very unique material. There’s a conversation between the author and her two sisters and they talk about not only this book but The Year of Fog and Richmond’s other books too. Having this included is of particular interest because No One You Know is about two sisters, and their relationship is an important part of the story. The author states she thinks music is an important part of a book club meeting and there’s a wonderful No One You Know playlist included; each song has some explanatory information about why it’s included. Now, I’ve never seen anything like this in the back of a book! There are also two recipes for coffee cocktails, also a lot of fun since coffee has such a prominent place in this book. These inclusions are all very satisfying.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Lisa Vegan Well, I just started this because I haven't received the two first-reads books on my currently reading list.

As with her The Year of Fog, I thoroughly enjoy this author's writing style and the subject matter she chooses.

Pamela I, too, loved No One You Know, but I don't think it can compare to The Year of Fog. I had read several books with the "abducted child" theme and was at first reluctant to read The Year of Fog. However, the main character was so sympathetic and believable that I found myself totally engrossed in the story. I hope Michelle Richmond continues to give us wonderful reading material for years to come. She is definitely on my list of authors whose new material I will eagerly await.

Lisa Vegan Pamela, She has out an earlier third novel (Dream of the Blue Room) and a book of short stories (The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress) too. I was afraid that this book would be a let down after The Year of Fog but I was just as impressed. In its own way I do think it was just as good a book. The Year of Fog has really stuck with me; I think that this book will also but I will see.

Pamela Thanks for the info about the third novel. I'll hit the bookstore this weekend.

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