Kate's Reviews > Ten Days

Ten Days by Janet Gilsdorf
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's review
Sep 07, 2012

it was ok
Read in September, 2012

It’s confirmed. I like writing that is spare, concise but still full of meaning and warmth. Big, long, flowery sentences don’t necessarily equal meaning and warmth (the exception is Emily Perkins’ masterpiece, The Forrests). When I was in high school I had a fabulous English teacher who would rap us over the knuckles (not literally) when she saw us reaching for the thesaurus – “Just use your own words,” she’d say, “I don’t want a fruit salad.” Can you see where this review is heading?

Ten Days by Janet Gilsdorf is the story of Anna and Jake, married for six years with a three-year-old, Chris, and baby Eddie. Anna is a teacher and Jake an orthopedic surgeon – their life is full of the ordinary routine (and daily grind) that goes with raising kids, running a household and holding down a job. Then one night, Eddie gets sick.

When Anna phones Jake at work to seek advice, he reassures her that Eddie has just caught her cold. But with the morning light comes the terrible realisation that Eddie is seriously ill (meningitis). Guilt-ridden and shell-shocked, Anna doesn’t leave Eddie’s bedside in the ICU where he teeters between life and death. In the days that follow Eddie’s diagnosis, grief gives way to recrimination and accusations.

There are two sub-plots within the story – the ‘outbreak’ of meningitis in the family daycare home where Eddie and Chris are cared for and Jake’s temptation to reignite an old affair. Without dwelling on either of these sub-plots, the first fitted well with the story and added an interesting dimension for action to take place outside of the hospital. However the second, Jake’s ‘affair’, was unnecessary.

It’s obviously subjective but I really didn’t enjoy Gilsdorf’s overly descriptive writing style. It seemed over-worked and I like more ‘space’ around my words. For example -

“His face looked dispassionate, its profile stolid against the cloudless sky. His clean-shaven jaw, the knob on his nose from a hockey mishap, his shaggy eyebrows. These features – his entire body – were as familiar to her as breathing. Yet who was he? Why could he let Chris get lost? At this moment he was a stranger. At his core he was unknowable to her.”

My other gripe was with the character of Jake. Liking a character is not a pre-requisite of mine but I do need to believe the character. Unfortunately, Jake’s actions and attitude were totally unbelievable. He’s established as a calm, reasonable guy who, due to the nature of his work, handles a crisis well. BUT he is also a parent, with his baby clinging to life. His attitude toward Anna and Chris, and his ‘straying’ with an ex really seemed outside of what I would expect.

See my full review here: http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wor...
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09/18/2016 marked as: read

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