Thursday, August 11, 2016

June: A Book Review

There's a story in this novel, a story desperately trying to claw its way out of a prison of flowery prose. A good editor was needed to hack through the thicket of excess verbiage, but alas, JUNE was published in its current form and it is up to a reader to find the good parts.

This being literary fiction, the writing has more metaphors than you're likely to find in some potboiler thriller, and like any other seasoning, a little goes a long way. Too much can spoil a good recipe. There were times when I had to go back and reread a few pages to understand what the author was trying to say, and that is the definition of too much verbal flourishing.

A pity, really, because the plot underneath is quite good. We have Cassie, an artist raised by her grandmother after her parents died in a tragic accident. She returns to her greandmother's home after the old woman's passing, guilt-ridden at not spending enough time with Grandma as the end neared. The old house is a bit magical in that it can invade Cassie's dreams with its past and those who once graced the halls, and while that sounds silly it lends a bit of charm to the story.

Out of nowhere, Cassie learns that she has inherited the fortune of a film star who came to the small Ohio town where Cassie now resides to shoot a movie. It takes a while to get there, through a dense forest of words that you will end up skipping over because they don't help move the narrative. With the introduction of that little mystery, the plot moves forward, with the famous daughter of that movie star arriving to settle things with Cassie rather than contest the will in a public courtroom.

Famous daughter Tate drags along her entourage from Hollywood, bringing in a little sexual tension between Nick the assistant and Cassie. Their interactions don't come about naturally, however, with their sparring and romancing the result of an author propelling them along, rather than the characters coming together.

The novel drags a bit through the middle, but the story fights its way out in the last third and really flows beautifully. Cassie continues on her quest to find out why this movie star left her his fortune, how her grandmother came to be involved in the star's life, and what became of her grandmother's best friend from childhood, the one with most of the answers.

Intertwined in Cassie's narrative is the story of June, the grandmother, and the film star during their short interlude of happiness. June's best friend has her say as the tangled relationship grows into what could be wedded bliss but for a few very deadly encounters that crush June's hopes.

Is the book worth reading, you ask.

For the good bits, yes. You have to work to find them, but when you find them, you will see what promise Miranda Beverly-Whittemore has as an author. If only she could find a good, honest editor to cut out the excess. Literary fiction doesn't have to be dense to be labeled as literary.

With thanks to Blogging for Books for the copy used in this review.

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