A.'s Reviews > Queen of Broken Hearts

Queen of Broken Hearts by Cassandra    King
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Sep 04, 07

bookshelves: chicklit, fiction, books-about-the-south, 2007
Read in September, 2007

Picked this one up because one of those what-to-read-next algorithms recommended King's The Same Sweet Girls to me and that one's always out at the library; I didn't know beforehand that King was married to Pat Conroy, who has his flaws as a writer but who I will also defend to the death, because I believe that he can turn a phrase like nobody's business. The first two lines of Prince of Tides still give me goosebumps after all these years.

But this is not about Pat Conroy, this is about Cassandra King, and sadly: King is no Conroy. While this book had the same twisted narrative structure, relying heavily on past-tense flashbacks to flesh out character and motivation, and the same dark, morbid, ultimately hopeful plot conventions that Conroy often relies on, the fact of the matter is that Conroy can flat-out write and Cassandra King can't. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it a whole lot, even if I found the protagonist completely unsympathetic; it was a page-turner and I wanted to know how she was going to screw up her life and the lives around her next, so clearly King's doing a little bit of something right.

But -- it's not even purple prose, because it's not that inventive. It was just a completely serviceable style of writing, and the plot and the supporting characters, at least, deserved better than that. Unfair to compare a writer to her husband, perhaps, but I can't help but do it -- Conroy's a master of the detail, a master of grounding a book so firmly in a sense of place that you can smell the salt marshes while you're reading his novel in Chicago, and I didn't get any of that with this book. I'll probably pick The Same Sweet Girls up if I ever manage to find it in at the library, but this was a disappointment. I wanted to love it, and I mostly found it boring and uninspired.
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