Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn--book review

I finished a book! Now what?

This isn't the first book I've finished since I last blogged, though it's true that I've been doing a lot more writing (not here, clearly) than reading. Also more knitting (and yet, hardly any knitting), singing, attending various meetings, hiking, being with my kids, cooking and folding laundry (hardly any of that, either).

I have no idea what it was about Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn that called me to pick it up again and again, without letting it fall abandoned with the others behind the beside table, until it was finished. It's kind of a quiet book, maybe that was what I needed. Very little tension to distract me from the rest of my thoughts. A little bit of a mystery, and yet easy to fall asleep to.

The book takes place on two competing time lines 14 years apart, back and forth, back and forth--which drove me a little nuts. It wasn't confusing, but it did get tedious at times, what with all the, Back in 1989 in her mother's apartment-s and, But in 2003 she wasn't thinking about that day 14 years ago-s. I think alternating chapters would have had the same effect without requiring the author to constantly step in to reassert the setting.

So, there's a woman, Con, visiting her mother's Brooklyn apartment, reading old letters between her mother and her mother's oldest friend during World War 2, and worrying about her teenaged daughter, and deciding to separate from her husband. And then there's the same woman 14 years later, awaiting overlapping visits from her mother's oldest friend, and her now-grown artist daughter, and her now-ex husband.

I never liked any of the people in Con's life much, but maybe that was the point. It didn't seem like she liked them all that much, either. She mostly wanted them to like her.

There's nothing like a secret stash of old letters to keep me reading, and then the mystery behind the letters was interesting, and I wanted to know how it was all going to unfold. So, I enjoyed the read. But when the mysterious things were all brought into the open it was kind of anticlimactic.

Con's daughter: Big accusation!
Con's mother's friend: Don't be silly.
Con: Oh yeah, I forgot all about that big stack of letters...
Con's Daughter: Circumstantial evidence! Of big accusation!
Con's Mother's friend: Uh....
Con: Hmmm, might be true. But it was 14 years ago, so I guess it doesn't really matter.

And that's the note the book ends on. In fact, during the day after I finished it, I kept thinking I wanted to finish that book I was reading, and then remembering that I had finished it, and then wondering for a second how it ended.

But I did finish it, and then I blogged about it. And seeing how long it's been since that particular combination happened, I guess that's saying something.

--by Alison Jakel


  1. I hate when that happens in regards to the ending, but at least it leading to reading and blogging. :)

  2. and yes that *IS* something! So fun to see Ali on the interwebs...

  3. Well, it sounds like it was compelling but the ending was anti-climatic.

  4. Glad you finished reading it. :-) Old letters in a book always keep me reading...the mystery and intrigue, it's like juicy gossip.

  5. I haven't read the book yet..But I think I'm going to like once I read it..The story is intriguing..:)

  6. Sounds a great book, Thanks and keep sharing here.

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