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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Read Around The Genre: Whispers, Together Alone, and The Bestseller



I've finished 3 of my books for the Read Around The Genre Challenge. My reviews are:
  1. Whispers by Belva Plain.
    Lynn and Robert appear to be the perfect couple. There's been tragedy in their lives, but they seem to have overcome it. Lynn is the stay-at-home wife and mom who loves her job caring for her husband and family. Robert starts as the up-and-coming executive who becomes very successful at what he does and looks to expand his business opportunities for as long as he can. There's just one problem with this picture. Lynn is a battered wife.

    It's not that Robert beats her routinely or even hurts her enough for visits to the ER. His rages are not frequent, but when they come, Lynn always gets hurt either trying to defend herself or tying to get out of the way of Robert's punch. And she has the marks to show for Robert's loss of control on her body.

    I thought this was a well written story told from the point of view of a woman who truly wants to keep her family together because she loves her husband and her children. When Robert swears to her he'll never hurt her again, Lynn desperately wants to believe him even though she has her doubts thanks to years of broken rsolutions and promises. When men beat women to within an inch of their lives, we don't understand why the women who suffer such abuse stay with these kinds of men. But Lynn's story is easier to understand. She doesn't want to break up her home for reasons most women will readily understand.

    Genre: Contemporary Fiction
    Rating: 3*/5*
    Pages: 480


  2. Together Alone by Barbara Delinsky.
    Emily, Kay, and Celeste are longtime friends. Emily and Kay are married; Celeste is divorced. The three women are mothers, and their children are all leaving for their Freshman year of college. Each of these women reacts differently to her child "leaving the nest."

    For Emily, the separation is the hardest. She and her husband have lost touch with each other over the years, and she has become closer to her daughter as a result. Kay is married to the local Chief of Police, but she also has her own life as a teacher, and she keeps herself busy with projects revolving around her job. Celeste is divorced and is looking forward to finally having her home to herself. No child to pick up after -- just her and whatever she decides to do with her life. She looks forward to figuring out what that means for her.

    As their stories progress, it becomes obvious that all three women have certain ingredients missing in their lives, and slowly but surely each of them come to realize what their individual issues are. For Emily it gets very emotional and raises issues in her past of her marriage she's never really considered seriously. For Kay, she has to confront intimacy issues; ignoring them will not make them go away. But as emotionally distraught Emily's life becomes, Celeste is the one who gets the biggest scare, and she's also the one who needs to take the most responsibility for where her life has taken both her and her daughter.

    The women in this book were each well developed characters with whom it was easy to relate. They were also characters it was hard to leave behind once I'd read the last page.

    Genre: Contemporary Fiction
    Rating: 3*/5*
    Pages: 504


  3. The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith.
    This is a novel about 5 different people each of whom writes a novel. The all submit the novel to the same publisher, and from the 5 books there will be one Bestseller. For 3 of these novelists, this is a first attempt at having a book published; for 2 authors, they are trying to hold onto recognition received for earlier books. There is also a storyline involving an author who died before his last book could be completed, but that doesn't stop anyone from wanting his manuscript finished and put on bookshelves ASAP.

    I have to say up front, I could not put this book down. Each of the authors whose stories are represented in this book was interesting to me and roped me in from the beginning.

    What also interested me about this novel was Goldsmith's sharing of inside information not only about what it takes to write a book, but the utterly frustrating and nonsensical details that go along with selling it to a publisher. She also writes about editors and what they do. For anyone interested in the whole writing process, this is a good place to get a general idea what it's all about. And besides that, you also get 5 very different perspectives from which the novels we read are created.

    I enjoy Olivia Goldsmith's writing. I think she has a talent for taking multiple characters and weaving their stories together in unique ways. I also enjoy her sense of justice. No "bad guy" ever gets off completely free of consequences. I only wish Olivia Goldsmith had lived longer so that her talent could have been appreciated for many more years to come.

    Genre: Chick Lit
    Rating: 4*/5*
    Pages: 507