My third book of the year was a small and simple contemporary novel written by a Montreal author. I picked it up a few years back for almost nothing at a book fair. This isn’t my usual go-to genre, but I gave it a try because it draws some parallel to a story I’m working on and I wanted to see the way the narrative would unravel. Does anyone else do that? Buy a book that has similar plot lines or characters to a story you’re writing for ‘research’ sake?
What follows is a SPOILER-FREE review!
Here’s a basic description: Hart Granger discovers on his fiftieth birthday that he has a half-brother. A shocking discovery,the strange truth is that he had once told a story to his sister that they had an older brother named Bill who had to leave to make room for her…
The premise itself is intriguing, but it also is part of the problem. I was expecting something a little supernatural, but that never played out.
There were quite a few things that stopped me from enjoying this book as much as I wanted to.
The book blurb on the back was one thing as it spelled out almost to a tee the novel’s progression. The last paragraph just stopped from giving away the ending of the book.
Another detracting feature–for me at least– was it’s narrative structure. It was told in three different parts: the first act came through the viewpoint of five women who know Hart, the second part from his journal, and the last was a jumble of perspectives. If it had served a larger purpose in the whole narrative, I could have appreciated it more, but the book ended up feeling like a collage of stories with no real ‘HART’ (couldn’t help myself).
With all these characters, it felt like few of them had any real arcs. They were defined by the briefest of glimpses into their lives. Only the second narrative thread told through Hart’s own words really drew me into his character’s development. It was my favourite part of the book as he explored a different side of life and revealed the darker secret in his heart. All that growth, however, seemed to matter less in the last act of the novel.
The story was well written, but the plot and characters fell too flat to allow a truly wonderful reading experience.
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,