Picky Reader – 7

Looking for an excellent read?  The Sound of Us by Sarah Willis.  I loved the opening premise.  A little girl dials the wrong number in the middle of the night.  She’s all alone trying to reach her aunt.  The stranger she reaches instead, drawn in by the girl’s voice and apparent circumstances, sets out to help her.  I liked the plot enchancements of a recently deceased twin brother who has conversations with the main character who is an ASL interpreter.  The writing is exceptionally tight.  Not one wasted word.  A truly excellent story.

I also read Baggage by Emily Barr and enjoyed it.  A new twist on a not-so-new idea.  What happens when you try to disappear from your past and forge a new life but your past catches up with you.  Truly well done.

In between these two reads I picked up two of my other library finds and read several chapters into them.  One, frankly, I’m just not getting.  The writing’s a bit tedious for my taste and after four chapters, I don’t quite see the point of it all.

The other, eighty pages into it, I think I could enjoy.  The writing style is inviting, the characters engaging.  But I found myself constantly distracted by the author’s use of footnotes to enhance the story.  The footnotes themselves are clever little bits of detail, but as I was ready to turn the page I’d notice the footnote at the bottom.  I’d read the footnote, but not have noticed what it pertained to.  I’d have to go back up the page to find the reference.  Very frustrating, and I wonder, necessary?  If I have time, I’ll go back to it, but I’m thinking my three weeks might be up before I’m able.

I had one book left to open.  Louise Bagshawe’s For All The Wong Reasons.  One of those books I consider a contemporary saga dealing with business on one side and New York society on the other.  Ms. Bagshawe has written several books, though I don’t think I’ve read her before.  The writing, the characters, the plot, all well done.

If you were sensing a “but,” here it is:  While the characters are engaging, the author has made me think they are not so bright, even though she’s set them up as being either a savvy businessman or a sophisticated society wife.

My first problem is when the character of Michael Cicero is offered a partnership deal for his small publishing company by a much larger publishing company.  Here is a hard-working, albeit struggling, self-made businessman who’s created his own company.  When he fears he might miss his opportunity to make this deal if he doesn’t act quickly, he calls the large company’s lawyer and asks for a recommendation for an attorney to represent his interests.  WHAT?

Am I supposed to believe that the head of a small publishing company in New York City never required the services of an attorney before now, and therefore doesn’t have one of his own?  This character has been set up as savvy, hard-working, put himself through college, quick-minded.  But he suddenly turned into an idiot, and what’s worse, an unbelievable idiot after his character was set up as someone entirely different by the author. 

I’m not an attorney and I’m not that sophisticated, but I know publishing houses work with contracts all the time.  You simply don’t go into a venture like this without some kind of legal advice.  I assume NYC is crawling with attorneys, so why he would go with the recommendation from the attornty hired by the company trying to take over his business is a premise I simply can’t buy.  (And of course, he gets shafted because of this.  A convenient plot contrivance?)

On to the character of Diana Foxton.  She’s the new belle of NY society, her parties are top-drawer, always written up in the society pages of the NY papers, as is her innate sense of style.  But when her marriage is in trouble, and hints are constantly dropped in those same society pages, somehow, she is the last to know.  She’s incredibly naïve, and her naivete is even commented on by another character who professes to be her friend (but who’s really after her husband).

All of a sudden, Diana has a job and is separated from her husband (wondering a month later why he hasn’t called her to patch things up), her society friends have all but dropped her, and she hasn’t got a clue that things are much rockier than she thinks.

I simply couldn’t buy this.  If there was some motivation given for her behavior, maybe I could.  But she apparently buried her head in the sand, and never picked up a newspaper to see if the press got hold of the news of her troubled marriage.  Hello?  You catch your husband cheating, you walk out and then he doesn’t contact you for over a month, and you’re still waiting for him to come to you and apologize?  Dumb.  Dumb.  Dumb.

If the author wants me to buy these scenarios, I need to understand why her characters behave this way.

This is also one of those novels where there’s lots of narrative about the characters, how they became who they are.  “Show don’t tell” is not a mantra to which this author subscribes. 

Having outlined my issues with the two main characters, I can’t say it’s enough to keep me from reading the rest of the book.  The story is strong enough even though I think the characters have made some dumb moves for reasons not adequately explained to me, I am rooting for them anyway.

There are two other things sprinkled heavily into the story.  One is descriptions of Diana’s beauty, her makeup and her designer clothes.  The other is Michael’s internal monologues about his sexual encounters with her.  What he’s done with her (and other women), what he’d like to do with her, how she responded.  On and on and on.  Repetitive and just plain too much of the same thing.  Maybe this is why he behaved so stupidly with his business.  All the blood had rushed from his brain to support his sexual liaison fantasies/memories.

I finished reading For All the Wrong Reasons.  I’d have used a heavier hand editing it, but I can’t say I wouldn’t read another Louise Bagshawe novel.

It’s wonderful, isn’t it when an author can overcome a flaw here and there and present a successful book?  Note to self:  Must learn how to do that.

With only a few days before my books are due to be returned, I picked up Miss Harper Can Do It for the second time and I almost finished it.  I had to zip through the last few chapters.

This is sort of a fun read (if you can get past the footnotes).  I found once I got into the author’s rhythm, they didn’t bother me so much.  My only question is whether or not a character who knows she’s quirky and constantly comments on it is as entertaining as one who has no idea how quirky she is.  The book is peppered with narrative, often informative asides which have absolutely nothing to do with the story itself.  You could skim a lot of it and not miss anything in the plot.  The Brother Alden thread was an interesting twist.

At the library today I picked up:

Shameless by Karen Robards

Pursuit by Karen Robards

(Karen Robards is one of my all-time favorite authors, so I hope I haven’t read either one of these already.)

The Road to Eden’s Ridge by M.L. Rose

The Law of Second Chances by James Sheehan (because of my self-imposed requirement to try to read more male authors)

Guess which of these four I’ll read first.

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