I love all of Anna Quindlen's novels and always wait impatiently for the next one. Every Last One was worth the wait. Anna's ability to fully develop all her characters brings the reader right into the middle of their world. This time, Ms. Quindlen's writing reminded me a lot of Jodi Piccoult (another of my favorites) particularly, of the novel The Pact. In Every Last One, the storyline is beautifully woven around Mary Beth, the mother of Ruby, Alex and Max and wife to Glen. I liked how the timeline was not linear and pieces of the past came out at unexpected times. I felt the pain and grief of Mary Beth as if it were my own. My only criticism (which isn't really a criticism) is that I still felt sad at the end. I don't expect (nor even like) every novel to have a fairy tale ending. But this one was, perhaps, a little too realistic for me and I felt the melancholy long after I finished the book. I guess that is the mark of an excellent author!
The story line was typical in that a seemingly perfect marriage begins to fall apart. We are brought into the daily life of Tessa and Nick and we watch how Tessa's choice to be a stay-at-home mom appears to be the catalyst for Nick's affair. We get to know Valerie, "the other woman", and we understand her appeal. In fact, we may even root for her to 'win'. All the characters in the book have had flawed relationships and/or made bad relationship decisions. In the end, though, everyone does the right thing. Everyone behaves well and that makes for a "happily ever after" ending but it also makes for a very average novel.
I did enjoy the narration by Cynthia Nixon. She really added to the story.
Within the first few minutes of listening, I was completely re-immersed into the world of Bon Temps and all my old friends there! It was as if I had been out of touch for a while and dropped by to catch up all the news. Everyone has changed somewhat in the aftermath of the fairy war. Sookie, although still trying hard to be the southern lady her grandmother raised her to be, has hardened and is not an innocent as she was before. Jason has matured and is starting to actually behave like an adult. Eric has given into his emotional attachment to Sookie and you can see her influence on him when he has to deal with his maker. Although the plot itself was pretty typical for the Southern Vampire Series, it was very interesting and entertaining. Some loose threads were tied up and some seeds for future stories were planted. The hours of the book just flew by and I was sad to leave Bon Temps again when it came to the end. True Sookie Stackhouse fans will not be disappointed in this book. TrueBlood fans may not appreciate it as much. Finally, I have to say that Johanna Parker's narration is fabulous. She truly brings Sookie to life. As much as I love Anna Pacquin in True Blood, she just doesn't portray the nuances of Sookie's personality as well as Ms. Parker.
The best part of this novel was the publisher's summary, which got me to buy it. The first 30 minutes or so of the book were somewhat interesting but having the narrator's voice interrupted by someone just reading female dialogue was disconcerting. By the time I got used to that, the story was as dull as Billy's definition of a beauty queen. The murder mystery at the center was not compelling, the "cites" were banal, and none of the characters were fully developed. And if Billy were any more "laid back", he would be in a coma. There were so many side items, such as Billy's neighbors and their domestic issues, Mona's guilt over her family and her crush on Dan, the Korean War tangent, Billy's lymphoma and Billy's dad becoming a pastry chef,that I wondered if an editor ever actually read the manuscript. I was so relieved it when it was over. I think the author owes me an Audible credit.
If it weren't for the great narration by Anna Fields, this book would have been a complete waste of time. The premise of twins discovering each other is not new but can result in an interesting plot. Not so in this case. The author spent a lot of time trying to build suspense by having characters ominously repeat lines about "leaving the past in the past" and "don't stir up the swamp" and "your sister needs your help" but they actually don't mean anything. The author also tries to throw the reader off-track by having one character appear insane and another one who can channel ghosts. But at the end, the insane person is suddenly completely lucid and competent and saves the day. The ghost is meaningless. The true murderer is a minor character who really has no reason to threaten the main character. The rationale for the murderer's derangement is not even a part of the story until she confesses. Don't waste your time or a credit on this book.
This book had a very good premise but it never really developed into a great story. At times it was too wordy with too much description and at other times, conflict was wrapped up too quickly and neatly. It seemed like all the characters were behaving because of their reaction to love but so much was left unsaid. Why did Zack become so passionately involved with such illegal activity? Why did he turn on Ridley? What was so bad in Ace's life to make him turn to addiction? Why was Ridley's father so steadfastly naive? And why did Ridley herself make such poor choices? The characters seemed to have extreme behaviors but we never really learned enough about them to understand their actions.
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