Fifteen years ago, Susan Morrow left her first husband Edward Sheffield, an unpublished writer. Now, she's enduring middle-class suburbia as a doctor's wife, when out of the blue she receives a package containing the manuscript of her ex-husband's first novel. He writes asking her to read the book; she was always his best critic, he says.
As Susan reads, she is drawn into the fictional life of Tony Hastings, a math professor driving his family to their summer house in Maine. And as we read with her, we too become lost in Sheffield's thriller. As the Hastings' ordinary, civilized lives are disastrously, violently sent off course, Susan is plunged back into the past, forced to confront the darkness that inhabits her, and driven to name the fear that gnaws at her future and will change her life.
©2011 Austin Wright (P)2011 Hachette
I thought this was an original premise, and looked forward to reading this book, as I am attracted by the idea of revisiting past decisions and projecting how outcomes might be the same or different if we followed a different path. The alternate path is presented here by the intrusion into the life of a settled suburban wife, mother, teacher, of a manuscript by a previous husband, an event and situation which becomes cause for reflection on what could or would have been had she made different choices. The pondering occurs at various intervals in the story as the eponymous Susan makes her way through the manuscript.
There are many effective theatrical touches - alternating scenes of domestic tranquility and dark terror as Susan reads Tony's story of loss, violence and tragedy but I am baffled as to what it all adds up to. There seems to be little personal growth, change, acceptance or realization, and the violence seems rather pointless.
Narratively, about three quarters through this book the story loses its mojo and the attenuated violence seems to drag on unnecessarily. Where I first was caught in the grip of Tony's story and its sinister rhythm, I lost interest eventually.
Very well-written, though, with ideal performances by both narrators, and in spite of the middling 3-stars I'm bestowing, I still give it a "thumbs-up".
Tony is the victim of a violent crime resulting in the death of his wife and daughter. Susan in the ex-wife who for some reason has been asked to read the unpublished manuscript. Susan reads, reacts and listens to a troublemaking voice that lives in her head. Having 2 narrators is essential so the listener can tell who is speaking or thinking. This is a violent book but the story is a compelling listen. The reader hopes the ending will produce a Tony who can accept the non combativeness of his personality but that is not to be the end result. This book is worth a listen.
Want to write a book which is the epitome of stupidity? Place a book about a gormless twit inside a book about a boring dolt. The performances are spot on, it is just unfortunate the material they had.
I thought it would have much more interesting twists involving the real life reader and the author of the book.
Duma Key by Stephen King
The female narrator was good, but the character was bland and uninteresting. I don't mind unlikeable characters, but I disliked her for being boring. The male narrator was good, but the pace of the story was so slow, there was not much he could do about it.
The book drew me in with its premise. I thought it was bold to have graphic terror juxtaposed with an angry ex as the writer - but there was no payoff for dragging through many interminable passages in the book that I thought were leading somewhere.
Others may well feel differently, and I have been listening to Jo Nesbo, who is great at ratcheted tension and engaging characters, as well as classics, so maybe a novel by someone who has not written as much will pale on tension and character development.
I need things to really engage me in order to escape these days - and this book failed on that level. .
As always I love to listen to Lorelei King as she can make any book, so I thought, a good listen. The unfortunate story was never brought together and it felt as if two stories were being smashed together. It was an ending that was disappointing.
Always. But not one of the better materials for her.
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