Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26: Vacationing Hard. . . and lots of other details. . .

I Couldn't Love You MoreI Couldn't Love You More by Jillian Medoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good writing and strong characters, even though I was wary at first, since it looks so incredibly well-marketed. It *is* a "crisis book": you know the pattern: happy family; former lover/husband/wife/relative/? shows up; changes occur; while changes are occurring bad choice is made; the rest of the story is about recovering from the bad choice. Depending on author's outlook, main character is left healing in good situation, having learned from bad choice, or main character is left, older and sadder, never able to be fully happy again because of bad choice.

I wonder if there can be actual variations on that theme--absorbing ones.

Medoff does a pretty good job of lifting this beyond "chick lit" by working hard to examine questions of parenting style (especially mothering), sibling relationships, difficult choices (impossible choices, maybe), and the whole idea of love of all kinds. In general, I'd say that the book is an argument for throwing away your damn cellphone--but that's my cantankerous old woman side.

Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters is a stronger examination of sisterhood, I think, and a more original story, but I Couldn't Love You More is certainly worth reading as well.

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Fadeaway GirlFadeaway Girl by Martha Grimes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Fadeaway Girl, a non-Richard Jury novel by Martha Grimes. I gather it's part of another series, but I may just rest with this one outing. In it, Grimes focuses on a single point of view, that of stubborn, sassy, smart, precocious Emma Graham. Emma could be the twin of Flavia del Luce, of the Alan Bradley mysteries: she's cranky, nosy, and very entertaining. Grimes has been experimenting with voice in the Jury novels (I mentioned that part of The Black Cat featured narration by a dog and a cat who can communicate telepathically. . . a bit jarring in a police procedural), but she remains in Emma's head for this novel. What Grimes continues to do--which lost her the final star in my opinion--is obscure the details of the solution, the murder, even the plot itself. Parts of this novel depend completely on the reader having read an earlier novel (Belle Ruin), which I have not read, and instead of providing a clear preface, a conversation that restates the salient details, or anything like that, Grimes scatters bits and pieces, allusions, etc, into the entirety of Fadeaway Girl. If I hadn't enjoyed Emma so much, I'd've quit about 2/3 through--because she does NOT explain the situation clearly at all.

So. It was an interesting read, with a terrific main character, but Fadeaway Girl stands as another example of Martha Grimes's refusal to write a straightforward story, so frustration is part of the package!

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