Expertly voiced by Audie Award-winner Susan Ericksen, this third short story collection from psychotherapist Amy Bloom is devoted to doing the thing they both do best: evoking sympathy for characters whose faults and failures are not light ones. This book is actually less like a collection of short stories and more like two novellas onto which a few extra bits are grafted. Ericksen successfully juggles a cast of characters that rapidly expands the dialogue to include their children and their children’s children.
The first batch of stories concern Clare and William, two bland and stodgy professors who have married better people, but nevertheless end up loving each other instead. Ericksen traces William’s blustery English accent alongside Clare’s mannered New England posturing through the course of their first temptation, the long affair, eventual divorces and disapproving children, and one of their deaths. The second batch of stories concern Lionel and Julia, a mother and step-son who spend their entire lives grappling with one night’s incestual mistake after a funeral. Here again, Ericksen negotiates a humane perspective on a situation that most people just consider yucky and avoidable. There are also a half dozen different French accents to go along with Lionel’s subsequent escape to Paris and efforts to marry, all of which are a real treat to hear Ericksen move through with such fluidity.
Of the four standalone stories, there are two pieces at the end that function as a sort of palate cleanser. One concerns a woman whose roommate has been abducted. Bloom’s prose is a series of disjointed family recollections and reportage on the criminal’s hijinks, which Ericksen welds into a cohesive set of meditations of surprisingly musical quality. The other is the title story, which relates the deliberations of a man and his daughter-in-law who are each considering leaving their spouses. As Bloom hammers away at the diverse provocations of strength and loss throughout the collection, Ericksen manages to breathe a bit of charm into a set of ordinary people who are constantly searching for the right kinds of love as they confront death and destruction at every inevitable turn. Ultimately an uplifting portrait of people who are trying their best, Bloom’s most recent work shows that practice can make perfect. Megan Volpert
In this sensuous, funny, and heartbreaking new book, Amy Bloom explores the unexpected patterns that all forms of love and loss weave into our lives. With her dazzling prose, strong voice, and unmistakable and generous wit, this award-winning author takes us to the margins and centers of real people's lives, introducing us to some of her most unforgettable characters yet.
A young woman struggles to come to terms with her roommate's murder; a man and his daughter-in-law confess their sins in the most unlikely of places. In one set of interlocking stories, two middle-aged friends, married to others, find themselves surprisingly, comically drawn to one another, risking all for all and never underestimating the costs. In another, we follow a mother and son for thirty years as their small and uncertain family becomes an irresistible tribe.
©2010 Amy Bloom; (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Ultimately, the title captures the book's essence, but I would add a subtitle: It is Not Where You Think! The common theme of this Bloom collection could be described as the unusual places we find home, peace and family, often against the odds and the expectations of others . The stories of the odd duck professors falling in love (revealed in first seven minutes of book, no spoiler here) softened my heart despite their quirks which would drive me mad if they lived in my house. Bloom's development of the Julia / Lionel Sampson extended family (despite an event that could have shattered it) is a masterful treatment of decades of family emotion and lovely in its own strange way. Admittedly, the book was not all smooth listening. Near the middle, I had to take a 5 day break. There are long periods of details of everyday life which seemingly do not contribute to story or character development, but then - BAM! - Bloom surprises the reader with the plot punch line. The narration was excellent.
While I was listening to the first chapter of this book, I thought that I'm not going to like it, but for some reason, I couldn't stop listening.
I found the chain of events, and the book is chuncked into short but interconnected stories really interesting and I think that's why I couldn't drop it.
I had just finished The Help and was looking for something that would be really terrific. This had received good reviews in the LA Times and People Magazine. I really wanted to like this book. But I don't think that I did. It was confusing. There were no pauses between stories or chapters and I found myself very lost in where I was in the book. I thought the book was a collections of short stories that shared similar characters so I kept looking for the characters from the first part in the last part. This book had my unrealized expectations that it would be GREAT. I tried to like it. I really tried. But it's not a book I would recommend to friends.
I might. I think it was just not my kind of book
I'm not sure
I thought it was quite good
Pretentious, self-absorbed, unrealistic, but no point in going on. They sucked me in, but don't waste your money on it.
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