When you live in the “book world”, as I do, it’s easy to tell which books have the full weight (and marketing department) of their publishers. Three high profile novels have crossed my path lately, all of whom have great name recognition with purchasers right now. Let’s see what I thought…
1. Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova is the latest from a writer who’s name you should definitely recognize. Genova is the author of Still Alice, for which Julianne Moore recently received an Academy Award. Before the movie was even a glimmer, though, my colleagues and I had been hand-selling Genova to discerning readers at the library for her great fiction works dealing with Alzheimer’s, autism, and left neglect. When the great folks at Engelmann & Co offered me an advanced copy of her latest, I jumped at the chance! Inside the O’Briens deals with a (somewhat dysfunctional) Boston Irish Catholic family who find out that the patriarch has been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. This devastating diagnosis affects everyone in the family, from Joe, the father, to his wife Rosie, to their four children, who discover in one moment that they too are at risk for this genetic disease. Genova describes in aching detail Joe’s internal (and external) struggles as the disease progresses, as well as the mental anguish Katie, the youngest daughter, endures as she tries to decide whether or not to find out if she’s destined to also get Huntington’s. Genova’s writing is so accessible, and you truly feel for every character, without it ever becoming maudlin or overwrought. This is a great addition to Genova’s stable of “medical dramas”, if you will, and will certainly shed light on a little-known disease. Another highly recommended title by this “can’t miss” author!
2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has been dubbed “this year’s Gone Girl“. Well, I would disagree. There has been a ton of hype and publicity around this novel, so perhaps because in my mind I had such high hopes, I was disappointed. Rachel is an unemployed Londoner with a drinking problem and an obsession with riding the train each day, spying on a couple that live near the line. When something involving the woman happens and she sees it, Rachel become intimately involved in their lives. Featuring six characters total, there is a very small circle of suspects in this novel of misdirection and unreliable narrators. The main problems I had, though, were two-fold : I didn’t like nor sympathize with ANY of the characters, and I found the story repetitive and at times (honestly?) kind of boring. We get it, Rachel has problems. We get it, something happened. We get it. So GET ON WITH IT! I found myself unsatisfied by this novel, despite all the praise being heaped upon it. Read at your own risk, and let me know if you had a different opinion. I’d love to know what you thought!
3. A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders has been getting a lot of positive reviews for her debut novel, about a murder tied to the book publishing industry. I really liked the lead character of Samantha (Sam) Clair, and there were a lot of very wry comments which made me laugh, but as I read along, I just started to lose the thread, as it were. You know how there are just “wrong books at the wrong time”? Well, this was one for me. There were *so* many characters introduced, I could barely keep track who was who and who belonged to what part of the story. I found myself just quietly losing interest, so I skimmed through and retired it from my “to be read” pile. A unique murder mystery in terms of setting and humor, but not the right one for me right now…:-/
All of these books can be purchased on Amazon.