Wednesday, June 18, 2008
May 2008352 pages
I already bitched about the cover art here. Despite that, I really enjoyed this book. Although I was all prepared not to. In fact, I'm still not sure why I even bought it. Oh wait, it's because every time I went into Borders it was sitting on the display table. So thanks Borders-employee-in-charge-of-display-tables. Good choice. You really know how to suck me into buying a book.
The reason I kept not buying this book is because of the main character, Alice. Alice spent 9 years in jail for the attempted murder of the drunk driver who killed her son. I wasn't sure I wanted to read about an emotionally unstable, vindictive woman. But that's not the focus of the story. In fact, this book has a lot going on.
First, there are the characters. There's Alice, who is returning home from her time in jail, determined to rebuild her life and re-connect with her teenage son; Colin, a recovering alcoholic who returns to the island to claim an inheritance (a house left to him by his grandfather, the famous painter William McGinty); Jeremy, Alice's son, who is accused of rape; Owen, the drunk driver who is now mayor of the town; and Alice's sister, who has her own family and political issues keeping her busy.
There are also the characters from the past, for the book delves back in time to relate the story of the Woman in Red, one of William McGinty's more well-known paintings. The subject, Eleanor, was Alice's grandmother. The scenes from the past touch on World War II and the Japanese internment, as well as friendship, marriage, love and loyalty. I really enjoyed Eleanor's and William's stories. Without their stories interwoven into the book, I wouldn't have like the book as much as I did.
Then there is the setting. The book is set on an island off the coast of Washington. I love Washington. Especially if it involves small towns on islands and lots of trees...my kind of place. Just like with The Way Life Should Be, I was all set to move by the end of the book. Except I don't think the water is warm enough for Hamburger to surf up there. Curses, foiled again.
I can't talk too much about the stories (Alice's, Jeremy's, Colin's, William's, Eleanor's...) without giving it all away. Not that anything earth shaking happens, but it's interesting to watch the stories unfold, and see the characters develop. Honestly, I didn't have a lot of hope for any of them at the beginning of the book.
Once again, I'm giving this book away. It's currently sitting on the floor of the closet in our office (because I have no space on the bookshelves!), and that's no life for a book. So leave a comment, and just like with that other book I'm giving away, I'll draw a name on Friday.