A Novel in Small Stories
By Beth Duke
Published in 2013
I picked this up from Kindle Unlimited because it was a novel in stories. I love this structure, especially if everything comes together at the end, and I was hoping for something akin to David Mitchell (think Ghostwritten or Black Swan Green rather than Cloud Atlas). Ultimately, I was disappointed.
I’d love to summarize this novel but there wasn’t really a plot. The premise was a family story revolving around Delaney, a two, four, or five year old depending on what year the story/chapter was set in, and that was the problem with this book’s structure. It jumped around from the mid-1800s to the 1930s, 1950s, 1970s, and early 2000s with none of the stories happening linearly. This could have been turned into a solid family saga but instead, Duke presented several unrelated slice-of-life vignettes that had little to no relation to each other. Every character was written in first person but the voices were so similar, there was little to differentiate each one from another (with the possible exception of a Civil War sword, which probably should have been left out since it added nothing but confusion). The stories covered family members but also unrelated characters that were only tangentially connected to the main family, such as a plastic surgeon (and his assistant) who ultimately had no impact on anything. So little time was spent on each character’s story, there was no time for the reader to connect with anyone and thus, no reason to care.
I don’t give one star reviews – those are the books I didn’t finish. About two-thirds of the way through this novel, I wish I’d skipped ahead to the next book on my to-be-read list. But I was committed by that point so I finished it.
I am definitely in the minority on both Amazon and Goodreads since most people seem to like this novel, but I’m giving it 1.5 stars.
Until next time, thanks for visiting.
My rating system:
5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.
4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.
3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.
2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.