Friday, May 2, 2014
Book Club, 1st edition
I love big books and I cannot lie…
My mother has belonged to a book club in NY for years, and I am jealous.
There are a lot of book clubs here in Winston, but I’m not someone you ask to join a club. I’m one of those peripheral people you only think about when you see in the grocery store.
You know…one of those “watchers.”
I actually like it that way, most of the time. I can learn a lot from observing. All these observations will come in handy when I write my novel. (Now aren’t you worried you’ll wind up in a book?)
But I always wanted a book club. And Cassie and Carmel decided to invite me, because they are totally nice that way. And our first book was The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, which was one of the choices that my mom’s book club read! So I was excited to read and report on The Forgotten Garden.
Now, I’ll be honest: I already had this book on my nightstand because my mom loads me up with books every time I visit. I was happy not to have to go out and buy another book, and I am excited to see what Cassie at Primitive and Proper and Carmel at Our Fifth House have to say about it!
Here’s the scoop:
I found this book to be long (500+ pages!) and a little confusing. I also think there were some things that were a tad odd, but I’ll get to those in time. First, the good stuff:
The Forgotten Garden starts in Australia, where Cassandra has lost her grandmother…and in addition to a small antiques booth, her grandmother has left her with a secret. The female characters in this story were well-drawn…these are women we know. Cassandra is lost, especially after her grandmother Nell’s death. Nell was a salt-of-the-earth woman who gave up her own quest to care for Cassandra. Cassandra’s own mother is flighty and irresponsible. Eliza is smart and creative, and her cousin Rose is sweet and ladylike. The evil aunt is…well…evil. There are a few good men (the women fall for them) and a creepy, inappropriate uncle (married to the evil aunt).
Here’s something else I liked…SOME of the complexity. SOME of the time travel and SOME of the geographical flip-flopping and SOME of the relationship layers were interesting…but there was just a little too much going on. And you know what happens when there’s too much going on? Stuff gets lost. I felt like there could have been more to some of the more interesting elements, but the author had to cut big hunks because of the length. So what was the deal with the creepy uncle? Was there incest? Was there pedophilia? And the brother who didn’t talk. Why not? And the evil aunt who died from blood poisoning from a cut or whatever? Are we supposed to believe she was poisoned from beyond the grave? Enquiring minds want to know.
Seriously, The Forgotten Garden was not a bad book, but I wouldn’t put it on my top 100 list, or even 1,000. If you want to read Kate Morton, there is a novel I enjoyed more—The Secret Keeper. (That one has a little somethin’ in it, as my mom says. I figured it out early, but I read a lot, so I have an advantage.)
We hope some of you will join us as we read The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin. Goodwin’s mother is English decorative painter Jocasta Innes, so it’s kind of related to DIY. I had Innes' books when I was a new bride, and I tried a few of her ideas in my first house.
Please? So I’m not just a "watcher" any more?