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Most Helpful Favorable Review
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.
Smart Women's Lit
Without acknowledging that she wanted or needed to, Joy leaves behind her NYC existence and is suddenly confronted with all kinds of complications to her previously straightforward life. Despite her best efforts to remain aloof, she is embraced by a group of friends and the rhythm of their reliance on each other. To many, this instant community would be welcome but to Joy it feels claustrophobic and she struggles to feel comfortable at weeknight dinners and daily lunches with her new friends. Joy reflects on the difference between her life in NY and her life in Amherst:
My time in New York hadn't exposed me to people who let you see their most intimate or ardent inner lives. I do remember thinking that life at Columbia was devoid of people of goodwill and benevolence. And I remember thinking that they must have had their kind and sweet human emotions removed before they took their jobs, or perhaps the pressures of their academic bred it out of them. Here in Amherst, in contrast, every day seemed to bring another heart onto another sleeve.
Along with new friends, romance also enters Joy's life. Actually, as opposed to the friends who she seems to feel have thrust themselves upon her, romance is welcomed in by Joy. She makes, in my opinion, some unwise choices in the romance department and these choices result in additional complications. Teddy, one of the men with which Joy becomes involved, is enmeshed with his overbearing mother and this limits his ability to fully be in a relationship with Joy. For all his emotional immaturity, Teddy also sees through Joy's aloof exterior to her fears and weaknesses and their relationship brings even more self revelation for Joy.
This book is excellent - it is smart and well written and the characters are complex and interesting. As much as Joy may not seem to always be the most likeable character, I think there is a lot readers can relate to in Joy's struggle to make changes to her life and the discomfort she feels with the changes. The book certainly gave me much to consider.
posted by Booksnyc on May 11, 2010Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.
not quite what I expected
I debated if I wanted to continue reading it, and I stuck to my rule of reading the first fifty pages. As I continued reading, it suddenly got interesting and I finished it easily. I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the changes that took place in Joy, the way she took a chance doing things she never would have done before. The best part for me was seeing the transformation of the old run-down Victorian house she bought and how this represented the changes that were taking place within her and her life. It's true there is a lot of description in this book, some of which I found necessary in reference to the house and others which I did not.
I thought the minor character of Bernadette was given too much place in the story when I would have liked to see more regarding Donna and her family. The children seemed to have adapted too well (with almost no repercussions) to witnessing their mother being bludgeoned to near-death by their father, and none of this was explored in the story. It seemed too unrealistic to me, almost as if it was concocted merely to advance the plot. I was also not impressed that Joy's friends encouraged her involvement with Will, a shallow man and obvious womanizer.
What irked me about Joy's behaviour was the casual use of sex, rendering it simply an act of physical attraction rather than an expression of intimate and profound love between a committed couple. She fell into a relationship with her emotionally stunted mamma's-boy handyman, Teddy Hennessy, and I had a hard time figuring out what their relationship was based on. They reminded me of two teenagers, but then again, seeing how they were both missing the mature emotional growth that comes during later adolescence perhaps this was a reflection of that.
The writer in me tells me that there is much underlying in this book, but I was distracted throughout and could not relate to any of the characters. I did like the ending, though, and it was perfect for this story.
posted by LauraFabiani on June 21, 2010Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 14, 2014
Walk past this book
The thing is i did not like this character at all. She is someone i would walk away from in real life. Selfish, self centered. So i had to struggle to get through this. The writing was good at the beginning but then it gets so tedious. All it is is page after page of subplots that led nowhere. Absolutely no dialog. Which tells me the writer could not do it...could not get the characters to come alive. Trust me on this....walk away from this book. Maybe the writer will go teach english lit somewhere and not make us suffer through another bore.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 24, 2010
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