Friday, June 30, 2017

Spoonbenders: A Book Review

The premise is brilliant. The execution, however, is not.

This could have been a contender, if only an editor had taken a red pencil to the rambling segments that did nothing to advance the narrative. So much of the early parts had me falling asleep, only to find that things picked up considerably around page 130. Alas, the narrative wound its way back through the treacle and I have given up.

There is much to like about the story, with a tale of grifters and psychically gifted, mixed in with loan sharks and mob bosses and CIA operatives. Wit and humour can be found, but it's just too much work to find the jewels and I lack the time, and patience, to continue.

A little less dwelling on the angst of hopelessness felt by those at the bottom of the economic rung would have helped. Not all the characters in this novel are interesting, and there's no need to give them all equal time. The excessive amount of back story had me skimming in search of substance, and as I turned the pages I grew more disappointed because I wanted to like the story. The prose is well written. It's just that there's far too much of it.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for the opportunity to delve into a little fantasy. This one just isn't for me, so.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Bookshop At Water's End: A Book Review

Just as each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, so too are writers verbose in their own way. So many words in THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER'S END. So much description, so much inner dialogue and lengthy ponderings.

For some readers, this is the sort of thing they can get lost in, while the rest of us cut through the verbosity with a machete. The story at the heart of this novel centers on the relationship between two women who became BFFs over the course of three summers, one BFF's brother, and the other's daughter. They are all exploring life issues and going through a period of personal growth, hence the need for a lot of words. Yes, there is a well-developed tale in THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER'S END. The author just takes her time in telling it.

While this is not my preferred style, those who are fans of "lyrical prose" will find a narrative that keeps them engaged throughout. Bonny returns to a childhood summer home after a crisis, and calls in BFF Lainey to join her in a farewell to the house that Bonny plans to sell. Ah sure but the old ghosts of a long-ago summer return and the ladies are dealing with harsh memories of the night Lainey's mother went missing after a drunken spree.

Then there's daughter Piper, teen in search of herself, and Lainey's older brother who has long loved Bonny from afar.

They come together, they hash out their problems, the mystery of the mother's disappearance is revealed, and the strings are all neatly tied together in the conclusion.

For those who like a lot of prose in their summer reads, when the story is thin so the words are used to plump things up, this latest offering from Patti Callahan Henry will be welcome. But if you want your author to come to the point, you'd best find a different writer.

Review copy provided by Penguin Random House, with thanks as always.