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Spoiler Talk on Books We've Read > Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

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message 1: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 180 comments Life Sentences A Novel Life Sentences A Novel by Laura Lippman
I have very mixed feelings about this book. I thought it was a pretty good read. I wish the main character wasn't so self-indulgent and self-absorbed. She really did think it was all about her. To me it was obvious why her friends didn't help her during the schoolyard fight. duh. I would have liked to have seen that Cassandra had learned something from all this.
But I finished the book still confused about what happened to Callie's second son and the significance of Reg and Donna's adopted daughter Aubrey. Who was she?
Nevertheless, I thought Lippman made a really good effort here. I think with some editing and clarification this could have been a much better book.


message 2: by OMalleycat (last edited May 21, 2009 08:49PM) (new)

OMalleycat | 1448 comments Cathy said: "But I finished the book still confused about what happened to Callie's second son and the significance of Reg and Donna's adopted daughter Aubrey. Who was she?
Nevertheless, I thought Lippman made a really good effort here. I think with some editing and clarification this could have been a much better book.
"

Cathy, I've been saving your post for a long time in "unread topics" as I slogged my way through this book. I was disappointed. I thought the characters were cliched and/or thin and there just wasn't much mystery.

I generally admire Lippman's standalones a lot and there was potential (and hints) here for some interesting twists. But it all panned out to not-much.

You're right about Donna and Reg's child. That was a huge loose end, having been set up as a major clue and plot point. But no resolution or explanation. Since the child's resemblance to Donna was emphasized, it seems like her supposed infertility was somehow the point, but early in the book the child is referred to as having been a product of surrogacy. And what would Donna's infertility have to do with her father's infidelity? I was sure that Aubrey would turn out somehow to be Callie's child, but the timelines just didn't match up.

I was also disappointed that Teena was dumped after having gotten Callie's location for Cassandra (not to mention lots of other information). She's a major character but she's just abandoned.

The shifts from a first person narrative to a third person, but still from Cassandra's point of view, also bothered me. I couldn't get the point. Not to mention the shift of pov's to other characters. I get that the story needed to be told from multiple perspectives so we could get to know Callie and Teena (even if we weren't going to be treated to a resolution for Teena), but I could not get the shifts between 1st and 3rd for Cassandra. I kept meaning to look back and see if there was a pattern (I'm thinking the 1st person was in the childhood stories) but in the end I was too worn down by slogging to do it.

You said that perhaps some editing could have helped but it struck me that this might be an over-edited book. With the loose ends and lousy resolution, I thought that huge chunks must have been cut out, presumably to rein in the length.

I'm disappointed. Very.

Jan O'Cat


Donna in Southern Maryland (cedarville922) | 120 comments I've had this on my list at the Library, and I think I'll remove it now. The last thing I need right now are loose ends!

Donna in Southern Maryland

PS. She's one of my favorite authors too; I'll just wait for the next in her series.


message 4: by OMalleycat (last edited May 23, 2009 02:04AM) (new)

OMalleycat | 1448 comments Donna said: " I've had this on my list at the Library, and I think I'll remove it now. The last thing I need right now are loose ends! "

Donna,
I hate to dis-recommend a favorite author, but you've probably got more interesting books to read than Life Sentences. I usually love Lippman's standalones, but anyone can have a. . .I started to say "bad book," but it isn't really bad. Just lackluster. Tepid. Off-putting.

I feel so bad because Lippman used to post on the Hardboiled board and she's always seemed like one of "our" authors.

Jan O'Cat


message 5: by Ann (last edited May 23, 2009 10:36AM) (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14990 comments Jan O'DisappointedCat:
You'll laugh when I say that these comments make me want to (eventually) try Life Sentences A Novel just a teensy bit more than before. I haven't attempted to get to it and won't any time soon, I have just about de-listed Lippman's books as must reads after struggling with a couple of them: To the Power of Three, which I eventually read, and What the Dead Know A Novel which I haven't been able to get into. It is a disappointment as Laura seems like a terrific person and is very approachable, fun at book conventions per our intrepid attendees who report in, a very visible supporter of hor home, Baltimore, and like one of our own special authors from the HB board on AOL.

JanOMalleycat wrote: "I hate to dis-recommend a favorite author, but you've probably got more interesting books to read than Life Sentences. I usually love Lippman's standalones, but anyone can have a. . .I started to say "bad book," but it isn't really bad. Just lackluster. Tepid. Off-putting.

I feel so bad because Lippman used to post on the Hardboiled board and she's always seemed like one of "our" authors.
"





message 6: by OMalleycat (new)

OMalleycat | 1448 comments Ann said: "You'll laugh when I say that these comments make me want to (eventually) try Life Sentences A Novel just a teensy bit more than before. I haven't attempted to get to it and won't any time soon, I have just about de-listed Lippman's books as must reads after struggling with a couple of them: To the Power of Three, which I eventually read, and What the Dead Know A Novel which I haven't been able to get into. "

Not at all, Ann. I know just what you mean. Sometimes a bit of controversy as to readers' opinions makes me want to read a book more just so that I can form my own opinion.

Plus, diversity among readers and all of that. What the Dead Know is one of my favorites of Lippman's.

You mentioned her evocation of Baltimore and one thing she does well in Life Sentences is use that setting. I fell in love with Baltimore by proxy when I watched the TV series Homicide. Something that was brought out in that series, as well as David Simon's book that spawned it, as well as Lippman's books is the constant underlying class, ethnic, and racial tension among Baltimoreans. In many ways it's a very integrated and harmonious city, but those divisions among neighborhoods, groups, and individuals are always lurking somewhere in each character's consciousness and within seemingly every story.

That element is very much a part of Life Sentences and as usual Lippman writes it so well that the dynamic is understandable to me, someone who's never traveled east of the Mississippi.

Jan O'Cat


message 7: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14990 comments Jan O'InsightfulCat:
LOL, now I'll have to try What the Dead Know A Novel again. It was probably library due dates that prevented me from taking the time to read it the last time I attempted it.
Ahh, Homicide, Life on the Streets, a favorite TV show of mine was well. And there is the Edgar Allan Poe connection to Baltimore too. I enjoyed reading about the 1840's version of the city in Matthew Pearl's The Poe Shadow A Novel.
Laura Lippman is to Baltimore, as Dennis Lehane is to Boston in their portrayals of cities they know and love and share in their books.

JanOMalleycat wrote: "Plus, diversity among readers and all of that. What the Dead Know is one of my favorites of Lippman's.

You mentioned her evocation of Baltimore and one thing she does well in Life Sentences is use that setting. I fell in love with Baltimore by proxy when I watched the TV series Homicide. Something that was brought out in that series, as well as David Simon's book that spawned it, as well as Lippman's books is the constant underlying class, ethnic, and racial tension among Baltimoreans. In many ways it's a very integrated and harmonious city, but those divisions among neighborhoods, groups, and individuals are always lurking somewhere in each character's consciousness and within seemingly every story. "





Donna in Southern Maryland (cedarville922) | 120 comments You know Jan, I was thinking about this, and Shomeret's post about liking and disliking books by the same author. To compare it to music, I absolutely LOVE Crosby, Stills & Nash, and I love MOST of their songs. For so long we listened to an album, and unless you got up, went across the room, and picked up the needle to move it to another song, you listened to the whole album side, right?

Now, with my little ipod shuffle that holds about 220-240 songs, I can leave out the few that just didn't 'float my boat.'

Young folks today don't even BUY CDs, I understand. They just buy the tunes they want off itunes or whatever.

Make sense?

Donna in Southern Maryland


message 9: by OMalleycat (new)

OMalleycat | 1448 comments Donna said: "For so long we listened to an album, and unless you got up, went across the room, and picked up the needle to move it to another song, you listened to the whole album side, right?"

Donna, I know just what you mean. It used to seem that every album had a song that I just didn't like, but skipping it was near impossible.

The funny thing is, for a lot of albums that I bought again in CD and then transferred to my computer, while I had gleefully anticipated skipping the song, the "album" just didn't sound right without it.

So. . .what am I saying here? That you should go ahead and read Life Sentences because, even though it's not the best song on her album, you'll miss something if you skip it? LOL!

Jan O'Cat, doesn't know any more what she thinks.


message 10: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 1392 comments Donna in Southern Maryland wrote: "You know Jan, I was thinking about this, and Shomeret's post about liking and disliking books by the same author. To compare it to music, I absolutely LOVE Crosby, Stills & Nash, and I love MOST of..."

I wouldn't ordinarily be checking out this thread because I haven't found a reason to read Laura Lippman yet, but I did just see the post I'm quoting from Donna that referred to mine in Goodreads e-mail.

I pick and choose books based on book descriptions a great deal, but I do also manage to get disappointed. Like the rest of you, there are series that I follow because I really like the MCs. I keep on hoping that the author will get bored, stop writing to formula and change direction. I often wait in vain.

Shomeret




message 11: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Thompson | 1 comments My wife and I just finish reading this novel and thought it was pretty good. But we also had the same questions about the child, Aubrey, as others have had. My wife decided upon the idea that Callie only felt tied to her secrecy because Andre said he couldn't leave his wife without any grandchildren. The knowledge that for the past eight years there has been a grandchild and she was still alone freed her. Or at least that works for us.


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