I was looking forward to reading Where the God of Love Hangs Out because Amy Bloom writes beautifully, but her Away didn't appeal to me. Unfortunately, she's now 0 for 2 with me. Again, the writing is lovely. And again, the storyline (or lines, in this case, as this is a sort of half collection of short stories, half novella) pushed me away when characters took off in directions I just didn't get. Several connected stories trace the path of an ongoing affair between two married friends; another group of stories follow the relationship with a woman and her stepson that inexplicably veers into inappropriate territory and never finds its way back. I think I know where she was going with these, but she left me behind. (LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program sent me this)
Start off with a self-centered character with a chip on her shoulder. Have the character announce her big plan to her family over Christmas--a plan that is about as mature and well-thought out as a 6-year-old's plan to run away from home, and that involves disrupting the life of her 16-year-old niece/daughter. The family is shocked and angry, the issue is discussed between every possible pairing of family members with the exception of the neice/daughter. Though she's supposed to be the key to the plot, the teen floats through the book cheerfully saying hi to everyone and pointing out cute jeans in magazines. She doesn't seem to have much of a relationship with anyone in the book, least of all her aunt/mother who wants to take her home with her. Toss in a quick semi-romance for the heck of it, and there you have it. (Another book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program)
The Ice Chorus follows Liselle as she retreats from her marriage (destroyed while she cheated on her husband with a painter named Charlie) and her son (equally destroyed, and refusing to speak to her) to a cottage in an Irish fishing village. I enjoyed the village and the stories of the people she met and interviewed there. I only wish the aspects of the story that moved beyond the romance-from-afar --and there were many-- had developed into the main focus of the story, because the flashbacks to the romance with Charlie did nothing to convince me that the man was worth waiting for. I didn't like him, and I didn't like Liselle when she was with him. I had a hard time empathizing with her pain over her son not talking to her, given how she'd handled the end of her marriage. As she waited in the cute fishing village for Charlie to show up, my greatest hope for her was that he wouldn't show, and that she would grow enough through her experiences there to decide she didn't need him after all. (Author Sarah Stonich sent me this book).
This is a classic case of a book coming too highly recommended. The blogger-types, they adore Beth Kephart. And after so much gushing, I expected Nothing But Ghosts to blow me away. And, it was . . . fine.
Fine was not the reaction I was hoping for.
I put off reviewing it for a couple of months, in hopes that its brilliance would reach me through osmosis if it sat next to my bedside table long enough. The result was that I forgot what it was about and had to read all the reviews I could handle (oh, the gushing!) to remind myself. I now remember the plot, but I can't remember why Katie didn't especially grab me, why her grief over her dead mom didn't tear me up even a little, why Kephart's words didn't leap off the page straight into my heart. Just that they didn't, and I wish they had (I bought this book at A Children's Place bookstore).