Saturday, June 20, 2020

2 somewhat disappointing reads from 2020



AUTHOR:  Ottessa Moshfegh
PUBLISHER:  Penguin Press
PUB. YEAR: 2020
SETTING: ?? cabin in the woods
Format: audio download (Ann Marie Lee, Narrator)
Rating - 2.5/5

As the story opens Vesta, a recent widow in her 70s, is taking a walk in the woods with her dog Charlie when she finds a note on the ground held in place by stones. The note read "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body."

Vesta moved to a cabin in the woods on the lake after her husband died.  Since she is new to the area, and doesn't know anyone she finds herself obsessing over the note in the woods, imagining the life that Magda might have lived. As she ponders the life of Magda, we get some insight into Vesta's mindset and her unhappiness about how her own life has played out.

I've read several books by the this author which I really enjoyed but, this one was not one of them.  Told in a stream of consciousness style from the imaginings of a lonely old woman living an isolated life, I kept waiting for a revelation but, I ended up disappointed overall. I found that I couldn't even feel sorry for this lonely, isolated woman, if I was able to, I think my rating would have been a bit higher.



TITLE: Saint X
AUTHOR:  Alexis Schaitkin
PUBLISHER:  Celadon Books
PUB. YEAR: 2020
Setting: NY and Caribbean
Format: eBook purchase
Rating - 2.5/5

In 1990 a family from NY is vacationing on Saint X, a fictional 5 star resort in the Caribbean.  It's a vacation that ends in tragedy for their college freshman daughter, Allison.  Although there were (2) suspects in Allison's death, they were released when authorities decided there just wasn't enough evidence to hold the young men. As a result, the husband, wife and Claire, their 7 year old daughter, are forced to leave the island and attempt to rebuild their lives in NY.

This is not a story about one brilliant young woman's death but, how the younger sister is affected by the loss of the much older sister she had idolized.  Once the family returns home, the story fast forwards pretty quickly to Claire as a young woman who has now become obsessed with her sister's death and how her life has been affected.

As I read this story I immediately thought of the Natalee Holloway case (2005) who disappeared from Aruba on her senior high school trip and although she was never found, she has since been declared dead.

Although I was immediately drawn into this story, I had a problem with the writing style, quite often I found I never knew who was speaking. I also thought that the the ending was a disappointing.

13 comments:

  1. I've read a few authors recently who have made it difficult to tell who was speaking. When the "voice" sounds the same regardless of character, it is essential to make the speaker evident!

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  2. I am sometimes annoyed at just the waste of time when a book disappoints! It hasn't happened recently but it certainly has in the past.

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  3. Well, just looking I'd say you can judge a book by it's cover LOL! Thank you for your kind words about our sweet Zoe, we appreciate it.

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  4. I get so upset when I start reading a book that I think I'll love and end up barely liking it. And, I agree with Brian. I've probably missed out on a lot of books just because I didn't like the cover and so didn't even see what it was about. Terrible, I know.

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  5. Bummer. Hope you find two amazing books to read next.

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  6. When a book doesn't work for me, I just can't finish it. It's such a disappointing feeling, but I have so many books on my TBR shelf that I figure it isn't worth the time to read the whole thing if I don't like it. :-)

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  7. I've been looking forward to reading Moshfegh's book, but based on your review, I may be disappointed in it.

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  8. Stream of Consciousness style books are always difficult, and frustrating, for me and I end up most times not lasting more than 50 or so pages. I gather that's not the author's usual style, though, so I make take a look at other titles.

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  9. I had been looking forward to the Ottessa Moshfegh book mainly to explore this author's books, so maybe I'll not pick this one up, and instead go for one of her other books. Sorry that these two didn't work out.

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  10. Ugh, two in a row. Hope your next book is a winner!

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  11. I was curious about Saint X (made me think of the Holloway case too), but most of the reviews I've seen have been lukewarm. If the ending isn't satisfying I'll have to pass, at least for now.

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  12. Thanks. I think I'll steer clear of both of these books now. There's just too many good ones ... to spend time with.

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  13. I will probably cut Death in Her Hands from my list. It doesn't sound like a book I'd like.

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