This is the only book in years that I have abandoned. An international bestseller and a bitter disappointment. Positives first. The writing is eighty per cent brilliant. It is intelligent and educated. Shriver has (probably) been to university. I assume she has a degree in psychology, and she knows what she’s writing about. There is some stunning and beautiful phrasing in there. And, for somebody that like this kind of thing, it’s brilliant. I get it. Her characterisation is flawless. However, I trawled through 180 pages. I’ve been averaging two books a week. This took me three weeks, and I abandoned it less than halfway through.
Authors put at least a year of their lives into writing a book—and the rest of it marketing the bloody things. I don’t give up on books. I feel that I owe it to the Author to see it through. Apart from that, people told me to stick with it because it has a fantastic kick-ass ending. In fact, the twist at the end was glaring and obvious. I admit, I never got that far. In fact, in my book, she didn’t even have a daughter at that point. I thought she was going to have the husband and younger daughter tied up in the basement. Because I wasn’t enjoying it, I devised a cunning plan—and watched the film instead. Which was very good.
So, Why didn’t I like this book? The writing is brilliant. However, she is prone to lists. Eight consecutive sentences, for instance, beginning with, ‘Am I the woman that….’ I can grit my teeth, give an elaborate sigh and ignore that. But, but, but, but, but, but (Try not to begin a sentence with but.) But. She drones on for hundreds of thousands of millions of words about nothing. I had to dredge any element of the actual story from the canal of all those empty words. She drones in eloquent soliloquy, but she drones on, nevertheless. She is clever for clever’s sake. She didn’t swallow a dictionary for breakfast—she binges on them with bulimic delight throughout the day and pukes up even bigger words. The writing is smug. On every page, I imagined her leaning back in her chair and telling herself how clever she is.
Just tell us the damned story. I didn’t like this book because I felt—and hubby said the same—that she was riding on other people’s misery. Early on in the book, she lists all the instances of ‘Columbine’ killings in America. Isn’t it awful that it even has a name? She made her fortune on the back of all the school killings. Doesn’t every writer do that? If we write killers, aren’t we all riding on every murder victim and their family? This just seemed to be bandwagon-jumping. In fairness, I didn’t like this book because it was just too wordy and verbose. 1 out of 10.
Katherine Black / Susan (Sooz) Simpson
Founder of Best Book Editors
Katherine has held almost every single job imaginable, from painting gnomes to zookeeper. She spent most of her life in the caring profession and has managed both a nursing home and a care agency. But her passion for the written language always brings her home to novel writing.
Born in Tyne-and-Wear, North-East England, she has settled in the beautiful Lake District, Cumbria, with her partner, two dogs, a cat, an iguana and a python (just don’t ask her which of those six things is her favourite!).
She specialises in content creation and social media outreach, and has been a developmental editor for hundreds of clients. She owns and operates bestbookeditors.com where she helps foundling authors polish their skills. However, after being diagnosed with a dramatic brain condition in 2022, she has had to let 23 staff go, and scale back the business. BBE is still very much open, we are just fewer and can’t take as much work on.
Katherine Black is the author of psychological thriller/detective/fantasy adventure novels.