Sunday, May 17, 2015
Can you recommend a book where the writing is fabulous, but you hate the story? I just don't know. I feel like Ms. Clifford (an award-winning writer for the New York Times) has amazing skills. I just don't love the story she tells.
Evelyn Beegan is a 26 year old living in Manhattan, and she's new money. Her father has made a boatload suing Big Pharma companies. Her mother is desperate for both herself and her daughter to fit into "old money" society, and has been for years - as shown in a flashback scene. Evelyn doesn't seem to question this at all, and herself strives to fit in to the pre-crash (and pre-Facebook/Twitter explosion) 2006 socialite world.
Evelyn's job is for a new start-up website called "People Like Us" - a pre-Facebook social site for the elitist of the elite. She's the membership director, and she did go to a fairly elite boarding school. She has the in, but she's still not feeling exactly like an insider. She knows there's something still out there, just one tier up, and she herself says she's never felt like she fit in anywhere. Her initial ideas for getting members seem reasonable, but she starts down a path to get them that involves bad decision after bad decision.
Ms. Clifford does a fabulous job writing this world. It's very easy to picture the people and places, and she really puts you in the mood of the time. Aside from the obvious hindsight that we know the bankers in the story are going to be in for a huge problem (they take a moment make fun of the NINJA mortgages, then dismiss the issue...) there is also a very strong sense of personal impending doom for Evelyn. The writing, as I said, is excellent.
My problem is the character. I had no one to root for, and that doesn't make for an enjoyable read for me. Evelyn is so desperate to join this elite group that she continually lies, manipulates people, ditches the only two people you can even think of approving of in the book... I understand that Ms. Clifford doesn't necessarily want us to like Evelyn, either, but it made the book a bit of a slog for me. I knew she was in for a fall, but I just didn't care. Some of the jacket reviews mention how delicious it is to watch someone fail, but I didn't even get that out of it. The people who cause the fall are also so unlikeable that you can't enjoy their enjoyment in her denouement, either.
So... Some people may not mind that lack of a true heroine, and if that's the case, they will certainly enjoy the pace, quality of writing, and tone. It's just personal preference for me to have someone to relate to within a novel that makes it totally enjoyable to read. The author is very good at what she does, it's just not my cup of tea as far as the premise.
This was an amazon.com Vine selection - it won't be released until August 18th, 2015. I feel like it's going to be a popular book club selection, and maybe for good reason. It's not a bad book by any means. It's just not something I totally enjoyed.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
The reading gods were smiling down on me this week and I actually got to read (and finish) a book. I finished it last night after spending 3 hours at a wine festival (hence the water bottle).
The Girl on the Train reminded me a lot of Gone Girl except with multiple couples ...crazy women, strained marriages, sneaking suspicions between young couples that no one had the balls to just come right out and confront, etc. The Girl on the Train is more layered, however and provided a bit more intrigue. Oh, and the fact that one of the main characters is an alcoholic always keeps things interesting.
Overall, I recommend it as a quick-ish easy read. It's well written, flips between different character narratives without being confusing or annoying and wraps up with nice, satisfying ending.
I wonder what the reading gods have in store for me this week?