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Friday, June 11, 2010

My review of Laura Rider's Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton

Laura Rider's Masterpiece

About the book:

Laura and Charlie Rider have been married for twelve years. They share their nursery business in rural Wisconsin, their love for their animals, and their zeal for storytelling. Although Charlie's enthusiasm in the bedroom has worn Laura out, although she no longer sleeps with him, they are happy enough going along in their routine. Jenna Faroli is the host of a popular radio show, and in Laura's mind is "the single most famous person in the Town of Dover." When Jenna happens to cross Charlie's path one day, and they begin an e-mail correspondence, Laura cannot resist using Charlie to try out her new writing skills. Together, Laura and Charlie craft florid, strangely intimate messages that entice Jenna in an unexpected way. The "project" quickly spins out of control. The lines between Laura's words and Charlie's feelings are blurred and complicated, Jenna is transformed in ways that deeply disturb her, and Laura is transformed in her mind's eye into an artist. The transformations are hilarious and poignant, and for Laura Rider, beyond her wildest expectations. (Description provided by publisher, not me.)

My review:

I read this book fairly quickly, though skimmed several parts that were particularly dull and dry, like when you were in Jenna's husband intellectual mind. I could see why Jenna was bored with her husband. It bored me just reading that part. The thing that disturbed me was the set-up of the whole affair in the first place. It might have been funny if it wasn't so sad. I understand the author was writing about a woman, Laura, who was trying to understand the universal woman and what made her tick, romantically speaking, while writing her novel. The way Laura discovered these "truths" just wasn't funny, in my opinion.

While the story may be satire, I found it a bit disturbing, to say the least. Same with some of the crass language, but at least it was a bit more sparse than the previous book I never finished. This story took a sad situation...two married people who were needing affection and sex in their marriage, and made it into a twisted tale that was hard to stop reading, and yet twisted at the same time. I kept hoping things would improve and there would be some redemption or satisfying ending. It just ended like most secular books...a real bummer.

So I give it two stars because I kept reading until I finished the story... making it "just okay" but found the message to be quite unsatisfying. Granted, I get that satire pokes fun at things, and that did make it entertaining. Plus, there was a suspenseful component as you waited for them to get busted. I guess I just didn't find the fact that two unhappy married people found temporary gratification in someone else's spouse, and then returned to their formerly sad and neglected lives all that entertaining.

There is no message of hope, just a resolution of two people living with "just a friend until death do us part" after having a wild excursion on the other side to the point of insanity. Sad, really. The story was not inspiring in the least. It didn't motivate me to be a better person, but rather made me want to sigh and I felt like the situation was hopeless...because it was. However, I did finish the book, so the author is able to deliver a readable tale, making this story mildly acceptable.

This book was given to me to review by Hachette, and obviously that fact has not influence my opinion in any way.

One last note... I, too, have written a story about an adultery situation. What a huge contrast in theme, presentation, and overall message there is between Never Without Hope and this story...

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