March 21, 2010

The Wife's Tale - Lori Lansens

OK - after a week or so of re-reading, I polished off the new book by Lori Lansens in 4 days flat. Admittedly, two of those days were weekend days, but they were busy weekend days! I loved her first novel, Rush Home Road, and quite liked her second novel The Girls (though it didn't stay with me the way that Rush Home Road did). I'm not quite sure yet of my verdict on The Wife's Tale.

At first, I was completely drawn into the story, as well as the characters, but as time went on, some shades of disillusionment crept in. The plot ticked along just a bit too neatly. And then I was not happy with the ending. It was almost as though the publisher told the author, "Thou shalt not exceed 375 pages," and so the book just ended with no resolution of any of the plot lines or characters. What the...?!

Backing up a little, the book is the story of Mary Gooch, a morbidly obese woman whose husband leaves her the day before their 25th wedding anniversary. But it is really the story of Mary's life - her childhood, teen years, and married years are all woven seamlessly into the story of her trip down to California from rural southern Ontario in search of her missing husband.

Mary is such a well-drawn and believable character that I am sure that she will stay with me over time, I'm just not sure what I think of the story. I would be first in line to buy a sequel though, in order to find out what happens next! Does Mary maintain a healthy relationship with food into the future? What ever did happen to Gooch? What about those headaches that kept popping up at times? What about Ronni and the triplets? And did Eden hook up with Jack's friend?

Has anyone else read this book? What did you think of the ending? Am I missing something?

March 7, 2010

The Day the Falls Stood Still - Cathy Marie Buchanan

I have to admit that I was disappointed with this book. After reading Sailor Girl last week, a book that I would pick up in the evening to read a few pages before bed and then find myself an hour later, struggling to find a place to put it down; I found it very hard to get into this book.

I think that it was mainly the characters. Other than Tom, the "romantic lead", I found the characters (including the first-person narrator) to be very wooden and 2-dimensional. There also seemed to be no point to the book - after Tom spends his life fighting against the hydroelectric companies who are stealing water from the river to generate electricity, we are told at the end that Niagara Falls now only has between 25 and 50 percent of the original water flowing over. I guess that Tom lived and died in vain.

Was there anything that I liked about this book? I guess that I can say the historical aspect of it. The book is set between 1915 and 1923, and even though I was obviously never alive in that time period, this book made me feel that I was really there. I have read more books set in WW1 than WW2, and so that time period is very vivid in my mind. This book, describing the advent of electricity, and life in an increasingly urban setting, and ladies fashion (Bess, the narrator, is a dressmaker), sharpens my image of the period.

So a mixed review this time. Am I glad that I read this book? Yes. Will I read it again? Probably not. Will I recommend it to a friend? Again, probably not. I'm going to take a break from new books now, and re-read some old favourites this week!