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Posted December 27, 2010
This one gets a pass...
This is an author who is acclaimed and has written several books, but we believe he got several things wrong. More about that later.
One of the central themes in this novel revolves around psychological damage. We discussed this at length, and came to the conclusion that while no one can completely avoid it, for most of us, our damaged parts don't run our lives. Another theme that was repeated was 'Words matter. Words count. Words have lasting import.'
Jane's parents had a terrible marriage, and truth be told, were awful parents. Her mother was never satisfied with anything Jane did, and her father was never home. Her father left for good when Jane pointed out that she would never marry or have children because no one is happy. And of course, Jane's mother blamed her for her father leaving.
Jane goes through a series of events in her life that stretch the boundaries of fiction. First she wins a full scholarship to Harvard, proving to her father that she is worth something, after all. She goes on to have an affair with her doctoral advisor. The one time she is open about her feelings, telling her lover that the book he's just had published isn't to her taste, the lover gets killed in a bike/truck accident. (Here there was disagreement: was it accident or suicide?)
Then she decides to forget about her career as a college professor to enter the world of finance. After a few short weeks Jane alerts her employers to a deal that makes the company $142 million. Then she comes under the scrutiny of the FBI, and is fired. She came away with a $300,000 termination agreement. Then she runs away to Canada and turns her doctoral thesis into a book.
She got a job as a professor in a third-tier college and got involved with another damaged character: Theo Morgan. She has a baby; Theo leaves her, the child dies in an auto accident, and Jane runs away again.
A failed suicide attempt in Montana lands her in a psych ward. After finishing her treatment, she runs away again, to Canada. Here it starts to get really weird. She got a job as a librarian, and then turned into Nancy Drew: exposing a child murderer and rescuing his latest victim. THEN she ran away to Europe. She came back later. The end.
There were parts of this book that we enjoyed. It spurred a great deal of discussion about family dynamics and good choices in life. But there were some very large flaws in the book, too. For instance, even though we loved the use of language, nearly every character spoke in the same college-educated voice. There were a number of Britishisms used: 'car park', 'ring me up'; this is a book about an American, and we simply don't talk like that. And my biggest laugh occurred during the January she spent in Nova Scotia: getting up before dawn, going out at 6, walking on the beach for 80 minutes, and returning at 8:15. Hah. The earliest sunrise in Nova Scotia in January is 11:38 am. Another huge flaw was the beloved daughter Emily. There was not a single description of her, other than she was perfect. The entire second half of the book revolved around Jane's guilt and misery at the death of her daughter, yet we don't know if she had blonde hair or dark, straight or curly; we don't know the color of her eyes; Emily is a mystery to us.
This book is so flawed. Waste of time.
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Posted August 31, 2010
Don't waste the time or the money
all I can say about this book is that it is TERRIBLE. If the primary character didn't have bad luck she would have no luck. I could not even finish it. I put it in archive after about 110 pages.
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Posted August 2, 2010
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