Okay, it took me awhile but I finally finished the two books I have been working on. Here is a brief review of each....
WHEN MADELINE WAS YOUNG by Jane Hamilton
This book focuses on the interactions of a family over the course of many years. They have a very unique arrangement. The father of the family was once married to a beautiful young woman named Madeline. Soon after they were married, Madeline had a serious accident that left her with the mentality of a 10-yr-old. The father subsequently marries Madeline's nurse but they keep Madeline with them in a "daughter" capacity. The story is narrated by the son of the father and nurse.
I was really excited to read this book because it sounded really unusual. But somehow, it left me cold. It took a lot of effort to get interested in the characters. The narrator never really felt connected to the events he was relating. The fact that the story jumped back and forth through time made it seem disjointed and wasn't really an effective technique in developing the narrative. Overall, it was a disappointment.
WHAT CAME BEFORE HE SHOT HER by Elizabeth George
I have never read a book by Elizabeth George before. When I looked at reviews of this book online, people either loved it or they hated it. Readers who are big George fans will probably hate it. Her previous characters do not appear in this book.
The story revolves around a poor mixed-race family in London as they struggle to overcome some pretty major obstacles. At the beginning of the book, three children are abandoned by their grandmother on their aunt's doorstep. You later discover that these children have experienced nothing but tragedy in their lives. The reader is left in the helpless position of watching the inevitable disaster unfold.
I found this book very compelling. It was too long and could have used a little editing. And the fact that the book often lapsed into vernacular could be a little jolting. But the characters were really interesting and I think the book demonstrated how difficult it can be for some people to overcome the obstacles that society puts in their way.
On to the next book on the pile!!!