Posts filed under ‘May 2017 reads’

But wait there’s more- “Truly Madly Guilty” by Liane Moriarty

Moriarty is pretty hit or miss for me.  She is experiencing a surge of new readers because of the HBO miniseries “Big Little Lies.”  And that is great because some of her books are quite fun.  But a fun read for me also has to be well written and some stories even a good Reese Witherspoon series can’t save.  This was one.  

Now in all fairness, Moriarty has some pretty good character development in “Truly Madly Guilty” and her writing is, as usual, pretty good.  But sadly the story for her has become contrived and formulaic.  

An event happens that is alluded to in the beginning – you the reader are in the dark – and all of the characters have a perspective on how that event changed them.  The effect of the before and after.    You as the reader find out what happened about two-thirds of the way into the book.  Then it is all about the aftermath for the characters, a resolution, a pat on the back and you are on your way. 

This technique of keeping the reader in the dark so it is suspenseful while all of the characters know everything that has happened is not necessarily a bad technique.  In fact, it is one of the top ten ways to keep readers  engaged and has been used for centuries. But it is quite the favorite of a lot of authors right now and it is getting wearisome.  Moriarty used this technique in “Big, Little Lies” and I feel like her publisher said “write that again but different storyline that maybe Nicole and Reese will like too.”

This technique of “but wait there’s more” means that the writer is relying on the hook not your investment in the story or the characters.  And frankly, a good hook isn’t enough for me.  I want the author to do more.  

I am not done with Moriarty, I think she has more good stories if she can move past the formula that was her biggest hit and maybe move to a more character-driven story or something with a straight timeline so the story carries the reader.   So, I will stick it out.  

Until then I am reading the new book from Paula Hawkins that has many characters all who know something the reader doesn’t know…but wait there’s more (*sigh*).   

June 5, 2017 at 3:43 pm 2 comments

The story of the used book’s margins -“Swimming Lessons” by Claire Fuller

My local library is pretty amazing.  It has been even more fun to go with 61iF2AsxQEL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgmy eight and a half year old (she would want me to include the “half”) and let her browse for books while I do the same.  I ran into “Swimming Lessons” on the new book shelves and, though I was a bit wary about the premise  (a story told through letters seems overdone), I decided to carry it on home.  And then I read it in two days because well, it was that good.

The story itself is not completely original. Woman, here Ingrid, has plans to be an independent, career woman and adventurer.  Instead falls for her womanizing professor, gets pregnant and thus finds herself stuck in the role of housewife, mother of two.  But while the premise is very familiar the weaving of the story is too amazing to not give it your full attention.

“Swimming Lessons” picks up at the end of the story, as Gil (aka philandering professor) looks out the window of a used bookstore and swears he sees Ingrid, who has been presumed dead for over ten years.  He chases her and ends up injuring himself.  His adult daughters, Nan and Flora, must come home and take care of him in their childhood home on Dorset Beach which is now filled with towers of used books.  As an aside, I can picture these towers vividly and feel that this  may be my house in about 15 years.

The story plays out with one chapter about Nan and Flora tending to their father while dealing with their history and childhood and then the next chapter is a letter from Ingrid  to Gil documenting their life together.  Before Ingrid disappeared off the shore of their home, she spent time writing Gil letters and placing them inside books through-out their home, carefully choosing the book that best suited the letter (a story about a cocktail party placed in T.S. Eliot’s play “The Cocktail Party”). This telling of Ingrid’s story is so heartfelt and lends such a wonderful prospective to what is happening in the proceeding and following chapters as Nan and Flora care for their father.  The letters add a backstory but also an emotional undercurrent that really moves the story in a thought-provoking and unexpected way.

Fuller’s writing and understanding of families, relationships and loss makes this book a meaningful experience for the reader.   I will say at the end you will not have all the answers you want, but you will have all the answers you need to keep you thinking and wondering.  That usually annoys me but here Fuller wins because she does it so well.  I have to say this is one of the best books I have read in quite a long time (with the exception of “Homegoing”).

The lesson here is if you keep returning to that same book on the library shelf and are skeptical – just check-out it.  The worst thing that can happen is you don’t like it and then you just pick another book. Unless you are me and you don’t return it on time and need a budget for library fines. But that is a story for another day.

Happy reading!

May 27, 2017 at 11:04 am Leave a comment


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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.

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