Thursday, May 30, 2013

Two Books, One Nook

What happens when two people try to share one nook on a road trip? Well, I can tell you that Don got the better end of the deal! After Chinua Achebe's death, I had purchased his classic Things Fall Apart to read this summer. But...I was falling way behind on the pre-publication novels that I'd downloaded to the nook from Net Galley. So...being the good girl that I am, I went for Gail Godwin's Flora, hoping I'd be able to send the publishers a great review. NOT!

This book has been getting raves but I'll be darned if I can figure out why. I may have to return to the NY Times review and rethink my reading of it. If you remember The Bad Seed, then you'll have an idea of what I was expecting. This Southern gothic tale of a chameleon-like young girl, Helen, on the cusp of womanhood, only kept me reading because I expected her to do something evil. I wanted her to!

The novel takes place in the early '40's. Helen's dad has been called to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to do some clandestine work for the government, so he brings Flora, a cousin, into his home to care for Helen over the course of the summer vacation. Helen, being the precocious gal that she is, feels fully capable of caring for herself and resents the intrusion of a woman she considers a "country bumpkin."

As the simple, cheerful Flora makes inroads in the community, socializing, cooking, learning to drive, Helen becomes more conflicted with feelings of ridicule and envy and the reader begins to question just how far the nasty little Helen will go to rid herself of the upbeat presence of Flora.

Of course, it's not Ms. Godwin's fault that she didn't pen the book that I wanted (as we discussed at length today with a panel of reviewers at Book Expo). Still, I don't think that I know anyone to whom I could recommend this novel.

 On the other hand, while I was taking my turn at the wheel through the gorgeous Cumberland river gap, Don kept reading pages from the Achebe book and commenting out loud when the characters did things that, while maybe understandable, were not to Don's liking. He had me totally engaged and I can't wait to sit down and read the book at one sitting.

The moral of the story is that life's too short to hang with a book that isn't providing the ultimate reading experience. I'm going back to the rule of 50 and sticking with it this time. Here in New York City there are hundreds of talented writers with books just ripe for the plucking. It's a positively giddy feeling, like that proverbial kid in the candy shop. I'm on sensory overload right now but will catch you all up on everyone I've seen and heard when I get home.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Oooh, sounds like a good one!