The summer season on Cape Cod is over - now it's time for the real fun to begin. Dominick is always just passing through. He is a professional houseguest who follows the sun and the leisure class from resort to resort. But this winter he lingers on a quaint New England island and, in spite of his best intentions, becomes involved in the travails of his eccentric geriatric hosts. An environmental protest against a proposed liquid natural gas terminal turns ugly, and by accident and happenstance Dominick becomes a mistaken suspect in terrorist bombings. But New Jerusalem News is really about its characters - the plot is just to keep them busy as we get to know them. None of them is young - these are white-bearded men and blue-coiffed women busy with aging, dementia, and ungrateful children. But Dominick strives to float above it all in a life of itinerant escape. A New England comedy of sorts, on another level New Jerusalem News is an extended meditation on history, identity, and what it means to drift.
This is a book that I might have missed if it were not provided to me for purposes of a review. I went into it without even glancing at the summary because I was ready to be surprised. I am glad I had the chance to spend some time with such a wonderful story. There is so much going on and it does feel very true-to-life in the way it is presented. There is a bit of mystery and intrigue, but above all, there are interesting characters and a well-told story that is not quite a whodunnit, but more of a "what is really going on" sort of tale. While I did find the "romance scenes" somewhat blocky and awkward, I am not entirely sure that was not by design. The ending sort of reminded me of an episode of Seinfeld where I sort of had to as myself if that was actually it.
The narration was solid and well done. Perhaps it was the narration that made the "intimate" scenes seem so awkward. It felt clinical and detached.
This is something you might miss or pass over for a number of reasons, I would advise you to reconsider.
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I received a free copy of the audiobook for an honest review.
New Jerusalem News is a different kind of book. It's about a drifter who lives off of the guilt money from his deceased, always absent, father. He has many friends and is a professional houseguest. When he starts to feel like a burden, or starts to get too close, or gets bored, he moves on.
The characters are well developed. They are older, dealing with the problems of the elderly, whether it is their health, their memory, or their children. I liked how complex they are. For example, Dominick tells himself that he won't get too close to anyone, but every time he decides to leave, something comes up and he has to help someone out. He also has some interesting thoughts about sex. Another example is Lydia. She loves her husband and is usually pleasant to everyone, but she can't stand her twin daughters.
The narrator had a clear voice that was easy to understand. He did fairly well at the different voices.
Although the FBI and ICE show up and Dominick is considered a suspect in possible terrorist attacks, New Jerusalem News isn't suspenseful like you would think. It's interesting, even includes a little history, and is often funny. It did get a little slow at times, but I enjoyed it overall.
Dominick is the central character in this tragicomedy. He is a polite and self-sufficient free loader that travels from place to place staying as a house guest here and there. This story finds him up in the Cape Cod area, staying mostly with a geriatric couple, Atticus and Lydia. As things get odd, he tries again and again to leave the area, heading for sunnier climes. But the dramadie keeps pulling him back in.
Lord Witherspoon, a minor British noble, is Dominick’s alternate identity. He finds it opens doors for him and he sees no harm in the little white lies he uses to bolster up this fake persona. Dominick’s past remains mostly shrouded, though we get a little bit about his parentage and perhaps a little psychology as to why he drifts from place to place. He’s a man in the second half of his life with no attachments – no kids, no spouse, no siblings. His mother is still alive, but he doesn’t prefer to be reminded of that fact. Sometimes he uses a little ruse, making an offer on a place, in order to gain access to it and stay as a house guest. He’s a free loader when it comes to lodging but has enough means to cover food and fun.
Right away, I was interested in Dominick and where this story would take him. The life he has chosen to live is so very different that I was caught up in why he was doing it. Apparently, mostly just for the experience of it. Pretty soon, he is hanging out with Atticus on his boat, helping out as a kind of thank you for staying at Mount Sinai (the affectionate name for the house) on the Old Grofton island near New Jerusalem city. Next thing Dominick knows, there’s been a bombing and the Bay Savers group (which Atticus is part of) is the chief suspect.
What follows is part comedy and part drama as the FBI, Homeland Security, and a group called ICE swoop down upon the area to investigate. Atticus and Lydia are at the center of this. Of course, Dominick’s fictitious Lord Witherspoon gets caught up in it as well and it’s way more interest than Dominick likes. He tries again and again to leave the area, but keeps getting sucked back in by these friendships he has accidentally made.
Admittedly, the plot does kind of ramble. It started off strong, building a kind of mystery to be solved. Well, that mostly petered out and only at the very near end does it come back into play. My attention wandered in the middle because there wasn’t anything particularly significant happening that related to the bombing mystery. There were some funny scenes, mostly to do with the women who end up in Dominick’s bed.
There’s a ton of interesting characters in this book. Ms. Arnold lives in New Jerusalem proper and often folks stay over at her place if they miss the last ferry. I like her no nonsense attitude. Brenda and Charlie are present at the start of the story, but swiftly disappear, though Dominick thinks of them often. Charlie is into the bible and Fox news, so some of his views are eyebrow raising or simply amusing. Lydia and Atticus have twin grown daughters, and we meet Angie. She’s technically in charge of selling the house, and Lord Witherspoon has made an offer on it. Lydia herself is probably suffering from Alzheimer’s so sometimes she is argumentative, sometimes amusing (burnt toast nailed to the wall, anyone?), and sometimes lucid and well aware that she is losing it. Mr. Starks runs a local museum and is into photography. Queen Emma is a local native american celebrity with fiery passion. Each of these characters was well written and I quite enjoyed meeting them even if they had nothing to do with the central plot.
The ending wasn’t at all what I was expecting but it was fitting. It was poignant and a bit sad, but also satisfying. In the end, this book is just about what Dominick experienced in Cape Cod over a winter. It’s simply a little slice of his life.
I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost via iReads Book Tour company in exchange for an honest review.
Narration: J. Paul Guimont was a good choice for this book. He had a steady, easy to listen to voice, and a good character voice for Dominick. His female character voices were also very good, being believable. He also performed regional accents quite nicely.