Peter's Reviews > The Same River Twice

The Same River Twice by Ted Mooney
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Jan 25, 2011

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Having read a glowing review in the NYT Book Review, and having just been to Paris for the first time last fall, I was excited about getting Ted Mooney's new novel "The Same River Twice" from the library. It is extolled as a "literary thriller," and Mooney is a master wordsmith. Some of his descriptions are breathtaking.

I jumped into this book and found myself thoroughly immersed in the multifaceted plot and characters. A French woman, a dress designer, is paid as a courier to bring some historic and artistic banners out of Russia to a Paris art dealer, and ends up in a sticky situation in more ways than one. Her American filmmaker husband, meanwhile, while trying to work on his latest art film, discovers that some DVDs of one of his earlier now classic films include an ending very different from his own--yet nicely produced. Why?

There are other layers going on and you find yourself struggling to keep all the loose ends together. But about halfway through the book, the characters start doing surprising and unsympathetic things, and it only gets worse. Ultimately I found it disturbing, or at least unsatisfying. I wondered if I was the only one who felt this way, given the rather positive review I'd read, and checking a bunch of Amazon reviews confirmed my own disappointment in the book. It's not bad as thrillers go, but ultimately it's difficult to believe the characters or what happens with them. And the motif set up by the title (and several deja vu experiences throughout the book) never quite hits home. But it was nice to experience Paris again.
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message 1: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn I really loved the cinematic interpretations of film and the wonderful descriptions of visual art by such an informed author, and the dialog was interesting in that the speakers were in different languages but it never got in the way of the story. I loved the ambience of Paris, and as Peter said, it brought back the experience for me too. However, I'm having a hard time with (SPOILER ALERT HERE) Odile's action against Turner, and even though she seemed alternately kind and ruthless, the point at which she influences her husband in the outcome of the events on the boat and then, later, when they were both rewarded for such a brutal act against someone she should've felt something for really had me stop and rethink her character, which I decided I didn't like anymore and felt jipped into caring about throughout most of the book, so I'm in agreement with Peter in his comments. I'm still glad I read it and I didn't find it lacking in pace, just having an amorality to the protagonists that is a bit more disturbing than I had hoped for.


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