Book Review: General Fiction

Book Review: The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

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4 out of 5 stars to The Art of Hiding, a family drama novel published in July 2017 and written by Amanda Prowse. I adored this book and am so glad I read it; let’s get right into the review.

hiding

Why This Book
A few months ago, I’d finished reading ‘The Idea of You,’ by this author. I really enjoyed the book, and when ‘The Art of Hiding’ showed up on my NetGalley feed, I had to request it. I forgot that they approved my request until last week, when I went to select whatever was next to be published as my next book to start reading. I’d been so busy writing my own novel, I missed the publish date for this one. So I quickly read it in 2+ days to get caught up.

Plot, Characters & Setting
Nina McCarrick, a mid-30s mother of two boys, 10 and 14, lives a wonderful life on a beautiful Southampton, England estate. That is, until her husband unexpectedly dies and she learns all was not what he’d been telling her. Suddenly losing her life high up on the hill, she’s forced to turn to all her friends and family for assistance. One person takes her in, helping re-build a life for both Nina and the boys. Nina begins to learn the difference between losing your own identity and being part of a married couple. Sometimes, it isn’t a good idea to give up control of all aspects of your life, as when it comes crashing down, you’ll have no idea what to expect.

Approach & Style
I read this novel through Kindle Reader on my iPad over the course of two and a half days. It is about 300 pages long, divided into 15 chapters, all told from Nina’s perpsective in third person point of view. The language is simple but meaningful; it reads itself as you feel immersed in the world Prowse has created for her readers. You could probably read this all in one day over 4 to 5 hours if you kept focused, and it would definitely be an enjoyable read.

Strengths
Prowse tells intricate family stories full of complexity and drama; not so much with everyone around the main characters, but within their small family unit. I felt the same way about one of her other books, and I’ve now come to realize this is her style; this is who the author is and what she excels at.

Nina is easy to relate with, given she is a new widow and has young boys to care for. She has no job, her skills are mostly outdated according to anyone she runs into. You immediately feel a strong connection with the woman, wanting to see her succeed. She’s a wonderful mother. She doesn’t sugarcoat the truth either. She dances around it a bit, hoping not to devastate her children, but she also knows hiding their situation will do more harm than good.

It’s not a suspense story, yet I only put it down because it was midnight and had to wake up early the next morning. You feel as though the events unfold right in your own living room as you are reading, and simply do not want to miss a moment of the beauty and pain inside this family.

Concerns
Very little with this book. It wasn’t a huge and amazing story that captures a tremendous amount of ground. It’s simple and thought-provoking. I felt it could have used a little more clarity around the death of the father and the days leading up to it. At the same time, it all came as a shock to Nina, so why shouldn’t it come as a shock to readers, too. But in the end, I would have connected a bit more strongly if I had some current history. Just a smidge.

On occasion, the relationship Nina had with others felt a bit fake. I thought it was necessary to the plot in some places, but it was a little too much in other places. Sometimes the balance between her being a lonely and hidden wife versus a lonely and hidden widow losing everything wasn’t as clear as I’d have liked it to be. A few extra paragraphs explaining how she interacted with her ‘friends’ before she became a widow might have helped give it more substance and a range between the two people she needed to be during the course of the book. I also think her ‘lows’ weren’t low enough, meaning she needed to struggle more in finding a job, not being able to pay bills. There was some of this impact, but a few things were a little too hunky dory for my taste.

Final Thoughts
Amanda Prowse is quickly becoming 1 of my top 10 favorite authors. I actually marked five more of her books as ‘to-read’ today since I’ve read two and given then both 4’s. I’m going to search NetGalley after I post this review to see if I can get my greedy little hands on more. This woman can really write stories that straddle that line between heartbreak and the promise of a better day.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Great Gatsby

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The Great GatsbyBook Review
4+ out of 5 stars to The Great Gatsby, written in 1925 by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read this book the summer before I went away for college. Knowing that it took place in the 1920, a time period I adored, on the Gold Coast of Long Island, where I lived, and the main character’s name was Jay, like me, how could I not make it a priority? And I’m so glad I did. It’s a fantastic story with so many components and a ton to say about life. The characters felt so alive. The setting and the description felt familiar. The actions seemed to call you to jump inside the book. It was a phenomenal read for me… and the only reason I held back a 5 is because I felt there were a few too many caricatures drawn on people from the time period. Though it comes close to being accurate, it took a few points too far. Where it could have held back, showing a few more realities, it stepped into a bit of quick-sand for me… pulling people’s views to the extraordinary instead of the familiar. I had the same reaction to some of the film versions. All that glitters is not gold, and I don’t know that Fitzgerald wanted those areas to be the primary thing people took from the novel. There was more beyond it. But it’s one of those books that really gives you a perspective unlike any other about the things that happened both out in the open and beyond closed doors.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Catcher in the Rye

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The Catcher in the RyeBook Review
3+ out of 5 stars to The Catcher in the Rye, a coming-of-age novel published in 1951 by J.D. Salinger. I am so glad I read this book as a teenager and not as an adult. I would absolutely hate it today, not because it’s poorly written or has no value, but because I’d hate Holden more than anything in the world. I was certainly not a perfect teenager, but I never had that angst as a kid, nor do I have it now. I have maybe 10 days a year where I complain a little bit about something, but for the most part, my mouth is shut and I do what I’m supposed to do. Supposed to, as in my own perception, not because someone else tells me to do it. Arguing and railing and running away and getting angry don’t come naturally to me, so I couldn’t identify with him. That said, I’ve seen this in others and it was well captured, a bit ahead of its time. For those reasons, it’s a good book. I’m a little concerned this is the type of book that will no longer be read… and teens reading it today wouldn’t understand it. I’m curious to see reviews by the under 25 crowd, just purely to see if the current generation has any different feelings towards it than I had when I read it in high school in the 90s.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Cherry Orchard

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The Cherry OrchardBook Review
4 out of 5 stars to The Cherry Orchard, a tragedy and comedy all rolled into one, published in 1904 by a great Russian, Anton Chekhov. I’d heard of this play during my high school years, but never actually read it. In college, I had a course in modern drama and theatre, where this was one of the 16 plays we read: 1 per week for the 4 month course. Our school also performed a theatrical version a later semester where I participated in some backstage work. We also did a video and literary analytical comparison. I know the play well. Commentary on society. Discussion of values. Choices. Understanding what you will give up for what you need to have. The themes in this one are so large, it’s often hard to discuss them without getting animated.

Additionally, The Cherry Orchard was the piece that I did my technical and textual analysis on, so I had strong opinions and theories about the characters and the action. When I saw the video, I was a bit shocked at some things, but I also realized that many things were done in the way that I would have done them. The whole discussion/argument about the play being a comedy or a tragedy is one that comes to mind.
I thought while reading the piece that it was mostly a tragedy. The Ranevskys were losing their estate and cherry orchard. I had sympathy and pity for them. Then, I thought more about how it was played in the video, and what the narrator had to say. I also recalled the action in the play and realized that the action is external, and therefore, it depends on the way that characters are played by the actors. It was the acting, at least for me, which showed the tragic side of the play in the video. When Lopakhin is announcing at the end that he is now the owner of the estate and the orchard, the staging and directing was brilliant. The entire stage was silent, and the characters all stood around Lopakhin. The orchestra was playing a little bit also, and Lopakhin began his speech. He was somewhat hysterical, but also vindicated. Watching this scene is what convinced me that the play was more tragic than comic.

The actress who played Madame Ranevsky was a great actress. When she broke down about losing the estate with her brother Gayev, there were more tragic tones to the play. It was hard to decide exactly how I felt about the piece because there were the interruptions to let the narrator talk for awhile. Overall, I liked the version because it appeared very classic. By classic, I mean in the lines and the dark colors. I wish that I saw the actual orchard. I felt a little deprived because the orchard was the focus of the piece.

There were parts that were left out also that I wish I could have seen acted. In my opinion, the entire play should have been put on, and then afterwards, the narrator should have commented on it. They could have held flashbacks and then remind us of specific scenes that were played in a certain way, etc. The end was good when Firs was left alone. I like that part. He was on the couch and I wondered what was going to happen. When I read the play, I thought that he was going to die, but I was unsure about his character in the film. There was a lot of discussion about the sounds of the piercing harp string and the axe at the end when the orchard was being cut down. This discussion was very interesting because it helped me to understand the importance of the sounds before I gave my textual analysis.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Three Sisters

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The Three SistersBook Review
4 out of 5 stars to The Three Sisters, a Russian play published in 1900 by Anton Chekhov. What an introspective work, but then again, Chekhov is always at the top of this particular game, that is, presenting a slice of life we know dear to our hearts. In this one, perhaps his most famous play, three sisters are stuck in a small Russian village, but year to be back in Moscow. Circumstances prevent it. If you don’t know any Russian history, you might want to brush up on it before taking this one on. I struggle to recognize this book came about less than two decades before the famous Romanov family was executed. It feels so very different yet so much the same. I digress. This story is about choice. Or lack of choice. Or more appropriately denying yourself the ability to choose because you lack the confidence to do what you need to do. The three sisters, arguably quite different, might indeed by the same woman inside. Life is hard. Seeing what happens around you when someone else controls the minutes, can be difficult. And you feel stagnant. But when this happens, a writer can capture the beauty of something known as nothing. It’s the little things… that make life so interesting… and this book so wonderful.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: Sister Carrie

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Sister CarrieBook Review
3 out of 5 stars to Sister Carrie, one of the greatest American novels of true realistic cum naturalistic tone, published in its final form in 1900 by Theodore Dreiser. Some of my favorite literature comes from this time period in American history. Writers took extreme liberties with creating the most realistic point of view and portrayal of characters who were living the American dream, or at least attempting to. All details were painfully described when it came to what was going on in their lives. It wasn’t about how you brush your teeth from left to right, but it certainly came close. Feelings were clear. Words were prolific. It was less about the plot and drama, the shock and the surprise, but more about how people felt and interpreted all the actions around them. People wanted to know what was going on all over the city, the country and the world. Authors delivered. In this book, Carrie and her family, loved ones and friends, face all the experiences thrown at you when you become an adult. How you make decision. How you spend your day. It shows thru comparison and contrast what happened versus what could have happened. While I normally love this approach, this one was a tad bit dry for me. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but it was just a good book. I didn’t feel connected to it as much as everyone else at the time. But if you want to know how things were during the 1870s – 1890s in American life, this book will show you.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: The Metamorphosis

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The MetamorphosisBook Review
4 out of 5 stars to The Metamorphosis, written in 1915 by Franz Kafka. I think most people are familiar with the premise of this book, and rather than do a normal review, I thought maybe I’d question how on earth Kafka came up with this one? It was such a great way to tell the story and teach a lesson… a man wakes up as a giant beetle? (I secretly suspect he came across a huge cockroach in his apartment while in NYC one day). And how do you deal with such a change? Your family is afraid. They are embarrassed. You can talk. What’s really going on here? What is Kafka trying to say about life? We’re all insensitive? Liars? Fakes? Humorists? Nutty? So many things to read into here… it’s a run book, too. When you’re a bug life’s quite different. Have you ever managed something like that before? No. So how did Kafka come up with all the little things to make it real? I’m glad he did as this book helps you enjoy reading when you may be forced to read some classics at a younger age that don’t appeal to you. As an more mature reader, you find all the symbols and beauty in the messages with this one. I believe I read it twice, possibly some excerpts for a third instance. Each time, it gets better. I would love to see a really good film or TV Adaption… purely to witness the metaphorical views a director would incorporate on the big screen or the stage. The words are amazing, but it’s what you experience by reading it that makes it such a wonderful book.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.
View all my reviews