**spoiler alert** This book was either a winner or runner up for some prize and the premise was intriguing: a new mother discovers her baby has been s**spoiler alert** This book was either a winner or runner up for some prize and the premise was intriguing: a new mother discovers her baby has been switched with another infant.
Alice married David, a nice, neat fellow with a close relationship to his slightly overbearing, strong-willed mother, vivienne. While the couple is still dating David's first wife is murdered outside his mother's large estate, tragic, but no could play is suspected. David's young son, Felix, is left in the care of her father and grandmother.
As time goes on Alice becomes pregnant with her own child, and Florence is born after a difficult labor and c-section. And things start to get super weird.
I will say this book was a page-turner and I read it in record time. I found the story compelling and couldn't wait to find out what was going on. But I also found it (and especially in hindsight) confusing, and obnoxiously tricky. In reality, what engaged me was one of those frustrating takes on the mystery genre--when a writer becomes more consumed with pulling one over on the reader than constructing a viable story.
I read one review that proposed the characters were written more like tv, that's to say, without as much soul as a book requires. I agree with that assessment, but again I think it was more sloppy than a chosen effect. The character's were pretty one dimensional and intensely bad. There was no gray, just insanity.
And David. Oh where to begin, since this was ultimately not even a useful inclusion. The character of David gradually begins to horribly abuse his wife in the most upsetting ways imaginable. But it didn't even for in to the text. In the end he just seems defeated and uninterested. But I assure you I'll be thinking of his strange interludes for years.
Not nearly what I hoped it would be. Mysteries should be able to be fleshed out and unraveled --they have to make sense, first and foremost....more
I ended up reading a few of the GOOP "Best Summer Reads," including this and "The Luckiest Girl Alive." As promised, they were easy to read and very gI ended up reading a few of the GOOP "Best Summer Reads," including this and "The Luckiest Girl Alive." As promised, they were easy to read and very girly. I think I liked this book for the same reason I liked watching "The OC" or like watching movies like "Father of the Bride" or "Something's Got to Give." Some how the atmosphere is better than the story? I like the abundance of beige and over-stuffed furniture, the detail given to interior and exterior design (in a purely visual and non-functional way).
I was clear on the story from about page 10 and while I occasionally teeter-tottered on whether I agreed with the heroine's feelings of turmoil--it would be hard to tell a finance about a badly-timed child (three years and nine months or something to the lead couple's three year relationship) that you intend to have a relationship with--or are trying to determine if you CAN have a relationship with...and there was also this implication that to have a relationship with a child means you must secretly have feelings for the mother, or at least she must for you, which I didn't find credible either...so nothing too fabulous there. And a lot of it was just down-right trite: twins in love with the same woman, a misunderstood wine heir. But I did find something worthwhile in the story of the heroine's parents. Not perhaps so much in their love affair, even, but the life they built together and the reality of that, that they could be ready to move on, that sometimes conflicts are created out of necessity, that love can live through quite a bit and be very complex after years and years and children and building something together--professions, homes, families.
Far from a bad book, it just wasn't anything earth shattering, but it was comforting and entertaining. A nice summer read. You gotta hand it to GOOP. They deliver what they promise I guess....more
**spoiler alert** This was my other GOOP Summer Read...and it was a little more weighty than "800 Grapes," but still not monumental enough to stand al**spoiler alert** This was my other GOOP Summer Read...and it was a little more weighty than "800 Grapes," but still not monumental enough to stand alone as a regular novel I'd tell others to read. I thought it would be more female American Psycho, but instead it became a less heavy version of "The Hour I First Believed," (Wally Lamb). I didn't care much for Tiffani. I got where the author was going with the character and her background, but just generally she seemed to lack substance. It was easier to forgive that in the childhood/flashback version, and in the adult Ani I suppose I just needed more compassion for her situation, but nothing seemed that hopeless. I wanted her to just have some guts and spend more time alone.
And as was the case with my other GOOP book, I often found myself questioning the heroine's compulsion to jettison their relationship, as it was glaring obvious Ani was going to do. That didn't seem to suddenly prove her sense of self, it just seemed really painful and cruel to the person who stood by long enough to attempt to plan a life with her. (And yes, I'm aware that he kind of lacked spine too and that was probably supposed to be telling of Ani's growth, but it just didn't hit home for me).
I think I maybe didn't like anyone in this book. I was ready for it to be over and I'd call it "fun summer reading" only in the sense that I could have read it when I was 12 without a problem, though I'd have certainly stumbled on some designer names, which are abundant....more
Eh. What a big old bummer this book turned out to be. It was a lot of a story, but nothing ever happened and I often didn't get it. There were just soEh. What a big old bummer this book turned out to be. It was a lot of a story, but nothing ever happened and I often didn't get it. There were just so many easy bits tossed in. Mia's father is a real jerk, but it's never really explained WHY he's a jerk. It's just a natural progression for this guy from a wealthy family with a beautiful, supportive wife and a nice career. Apparently he starts out charismatic and then does a slow progression to "bad" but there's no real reason. But when he's bad he's pretty bad: he doesn't care for his wife or daughter (he does seem to like the one that's as bad as he is, but you know, not the blonde one that is a lot like his wife), he lies, he has affairs, and worst of all, he's really calculating and self-serving when his kid goes missing.
And then there's amnesia, that I guess is legit but confusing, and a lot of back story with the mother and father.
So there's that, and there's also Mia, his daughter who is abducted by a complicated petty criminal that became wrapped up with a bad group of people despite being pretty okay himself: he supports his sick mother, he had a pretty lousy childhood, etc.
There's a lot of conflict--pages and pages and pages of it to be exact--of Mia and said captor (Colin) arguing about their sad lots in life (or rather, her telling him about hers and him mocking her in a word or less. There's also a lot of dismal text about cans of chicken soup, instant coffee and canned tomatoes, as the two are confined to a small Minnesota cabin as winter sets in. They're cold a lot. In fact, everyone is cold a lot, which is surely symbolic, but mostly it was a bummer. There's a lot of bickering and confusing flash backs and a very obvious who-done-it.
Personally I thought this book could have been saved by some good food. That seems weird, but I really missed it's presence, especially because BAD food was so abundant. I mean, if one has canned tomatoes they could surely get beans, or noodles, and salt. I'd have been thrilled to hear about Mia and Colin using some of their conversation time not sitting barefoot in the snow or staring at a frozen lake, but learning to slowly simmer a stew and put those canned tomatoes to use.
But really, all joking side, it did just need some extra something. It was bland and bleak and I was glad to finish. I really wanted a good mystery....more
I love Judy Blume. I like her children's books and I love her adult novels, so it was a thrill to see she'd published a new one. Originally a bit skepI love Judy Blume. I like her children's books and I love her adult novels, so it was a thrill to see she'd published a new one. Originally a bit skeptical of the subject--a series of plane crashes during the early 50s in Elizabeth, New Jersey, I was immediately absorbed by the sense of place and character development (of what could, perhaps, be maybe a few too many characters, but it works out in the end).
Blume did a fabulous job using teenagers, which she writes so well, and adults, which she also does well, but far less often. Miri and Natalie are her standout teens, while Christina is a cross between womanhood and kid. Rusty, Corinne and Ruby were great adult women. This book was a great chance for Blume to combine all ages of women and show how intimately she can write them all.
As with all Blume books, sexuality is abundant, but it's always well done and just interesting. She wove a great, intricate fabric of an entire town as well as this historical set of events that move it all forward.
I said great a few too many times and I know I must be getting tired because I try to catch up on reviews all at once when I have a open night after my kid falls asleep. I liked having the luxury of writing reviews as I read the books, but maybe when my kids grow up I'll get that back. For now I'm just pleased I've sort of kept up with these, since I'm not sure anyone but me reads them, but it must matter to me. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. I'm reading another Forsyth book right now, and I think my only issue, now that I see the formula (using fairytales in anI really enjoyed this book. I'm reading another Forsyth book right now, and I think my only issue, now that I see the formula (using fairytales in an almost scholarly way to propel a more modern or alternate story) is that once you think about the fairytale it's easy to see the conflicts and I find myself sitting with a grimace waiting for the bad thing to come. But that's not bad, it's just the author's natural foreshadow, I just usually am so into her love stories that I want them to be happy and mundanely in love forever and ever and just let me read about it. Lame I know, but she writes so well and the essence of fairytale is still so present in the places--the towers and safe-haven homes, that I just want to stay there forever.
I was equally taken with both stories: Charlotte Rose and Margarita, France and Italy, and I unraveled the mystery slowly and organically, as was intended, which is always fun.
The book was long, but I loved that--it was absorbing and well done until the end and I keep recommending it and as soon as I start trying to explain the plot: Rapunzel through it's historical framework, people seem dubious. I'm not sure why, but I guess maybe fairytales aren't for everyone. I feel compelled to say I'm not a huge fairytale fan, but I do like historical fiction, and Forsyth's books so far are top of my list of favorites. ...more
A few months ago I started following another reviewer who's quite prolific and seems, more rather than less, to seek out titles similar to those whichA few months ago I started following another reviewer who's quite prolific and seems, more rather than less, to seek out titles similar to those which appeal to me. I love her reviews and I've added more than a few of her titles to my "to read" section. Specifically, after finishing the ever so popular "Girl on the Train" I was slightly surprised and very intrigued to read that she didn't think TGOTT was nearly the book that Harriet Lane's "Her" had managed to be. I immediately got the book and began reading--because I loved TGOTT and if "Her" was better, then what was I waiting for?
For starters, I finished in 2 days and, despite a toddler who's up at 5, I stayed awake until 12 to finish. It quite simply IS very good. Both characters--the inward, thought-driven Nina, with money, style and a secret vendetta; and oblivious Emma, sleep-deprived, overworked and utterly awkward in her new mommy skin---are compelling and at some level, fairly easy to relate to. Lane is careful to maintain Nina's level of grudge: the reader is not granted access to the source until quite late in the book and it does propel you along. Nina clearly has memories of Emma in another life, as a young, self-assured and rather thoughtless teenager who gets things quite easily. Nina, by contrast, fills in her past with bits and pieces: a broken home, wealthy but preoccupied parents and a defined sense of introversion which seems to provide a self awareness later in life, an unflappable ability to say one thing and think another, to appear authentic and genuine while silently observing every snag and tear.
Suffice it to say, Lane is a master of characterization. Her ability to describe place is spot on as well. Nina's perfectly not-quite-too perfect silent home with pristine paintings, Moroccan lunches and white wine were a perfect pairing to the character's sleek, short bob, spicy/earthy individual scent and shift dresses. Emma's middle class bungalow riddled with a "growing damp patch" on the ceiling of her son's room and a cavernous couch sure to have "petrified" pieces and change is perfect, as are her thread bare, sagging swimsuit she's not had time to replace: it's all the perfect platform for a woman willing to believe someone like Nina, or anyone so randomly unlined to turn up in your life, has good intentions.
The characters and setting I mention because they're noteworthy, but also because I found myself directly contrasting/comparing to TGOTT. I found Rachel, by mid book, to be difficult to stomach. I know that's the intention, but short of being an alcoholic yourself, it's difficult to spend so much time with one. I understood and empathized with her, but I was ready to move on. Megan was slightly more relatable, not too far off from Lane's Nina, in a way, but even Megan was sad. I found myself favoring Anna, not because she was terribly real or interesting (on the contrary she was the most two dimensional and far fetched--as a mother I found her callousness hard to believe. You just can't have a daughter without imagining even if you could walk over another woman, that what if someone did that to your daughter?) but because the others were so lost. Nina was angry, not pathetic, and Emma, it's also meticulously made clear, despite Nina's one-sided observations, isn't either. Her life is hard, but it is her own and she considers herself lucky. She even spots Nina's own hardships: a sad childhood, a failed marriage, another to a much older man, a daughter pulling away. While she respects and admires aspects of Nina's life, she doesn't seem to covet it. Both maintained an integrity entirely absent from TGOTT.
But here's where my review splits, because I gave TGOTT full stars, something I rarely do, and "Her" only three. Why? It would be easy to say simply the ending, but there's more to it. TGOTT, despite Lane's skilled character and setting abilities, lacked the plot. The ending was disappointing and rushed and it made it clear it just want the same caliber story as TGOTT. I preferred Lane's characters, but in the end the development was absent. "Her" felt like a short story with 80 extra, beautiful, but not entirely relevant, pages tacked on to round it out. It was not a plot driven story, but by the end it needed to be. I got o the last page and thought, "I missed the end." But it's because there wasn't one.
So my new favorite reviewer and I have different ideas on what makes a masterpiece. But that seems strangely fitting to realize from reading this book. How we interpret our realities can make a novel, and a good one, even without an ending....more