Sometimes, a novel will surprise you. That in and of itself isn’t really a surprise. What is a surprise is how the novel surprises you. Do you hate it when you thought you’d love it? Was it not as wonderful as you heard? Or was it better than your friends told you it was?
And, sometimes, the surprise is that it’s so much more than you ever anticipated.
When I requested an ARC of Miranda Emerson’s Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars, about 85% of the thought process that went into that decision was based on the over. I mean, look at it – it’s lovely!
The other 15% percent was the synopsis – it seemed like it’d be a fun romp. I only expected what I was promised – a group of people, lead by the titular Anna Treadway traipsing around London, investigating the disappearance of an actress, Iolanthe Green, who may or may not wish to be found. What I found within the pages was much more than this.
After finishing “Sweetbitter” and thinking on it for a while, I think I understand why there’s such a sharp divide in how people feel about it. People seem to absolutely love or loathe this book.
I feel both feelings at the same time.
There’s a lot of beauty in “Sweetbitter”. Danler absolutely knows how to turn a phrase and how to set a scene. I found her words melodic. I’ve noticed often that people tend to complain about her descriptions of food not being very “culinary.” They aren’t, but I’m not sure why people wanted them to be. As far as I can discern, this novel is not meant to evoke memories of strong culinary loves. It’s simply a roman à clef and a bildungsroman of sorts. This is a novel about a young woman moving to New York and working in a restaurant. That’s it.
The few descriptions of the culinary world and the food itself are heady and and crisp – they’re enough for what’s meant to be there. It think it’s fairly obvious that the focus of the novel isn’t particularly to ensnare you in endless descriptions of food and culinary adventuring, but to immerse you in the mind of this young woman who happens to be working at this restaurant. Much of the story could function the same if it were removed from its setting and placed elsewhere – like, for instance, an advertising agency or a private school.
A few months ago, I won a Goodreads giveaway. I’d been waiting to read Jan Ellison’s”A Small Indiscretion” for months – it was simply something which kept getting pushed back to the back of my To Be Read list.
So, I was excited when I won and pleased as I’d now move the book farther up my reading list. As I was in the middle of a few books, I didn’t get to it right away. Finally, after some time, I did.
I find “A Small Indiscretion” to be a difficult novel to consider.
The novel centers around Annie Black and hops between her misspent youth, living in England and her more stable adulthood in San Francisco.
The book is narrated in Annie’s voice. This is her story that she tells us. The catalyst for this divulging of her secrets is the rather serious accident in which her son was injured.
I found it somewhat difficult to keep my attention on this novel. In theory, this is just my sort of book – it’s all about the internal turmoil caused by silly actions.
I’m not sure if I’ve recently read anything I’ve loved more fully than Meg Mitchell Moore’s The Admissions. As soon as I finished, I added her other work to my TBR list.
I don’t want to give too much away regarding the story, because it’s really a treasure that should be discovered for itself, so I’ll just provide a little synopsis.
The Admissions is essentially a drama centered around the frazzled Hawthorne family – Nora, Gabe, and their two daughters Angela and Cecily (and their youngest daughter, Maya.) Angela’s in the process of applying to college, Nora is trying to handle difficult real estate clients, Gabe has a huge secret in the he’s attempting to keep shuttered and Cecily is struggling to maintain her typically sunny exterior. The title refers not only to Angela’s application process but also to the family members’ revelations and realizations to themselves and to each other. Continue reading