Monday, May 21, 2012

Reading at the moment...

I've just finished reading this book. I'd read several reviews of it (largely positive), and it was also discussed on the ABC TV First Tuesday Book Club show this month. It got a mixed review on the TV show, where some of the panel really enjoyed it, while others expressed quite a strong dislike.

The storyline was appealing to me because a lighthouse was involved. I love lighthouses. And I also love a good ethical dilemma. In this one, a boat washes up on a remote lighthouse island with a baby girl and a dead man (her father) inside. Having just lost a baby themselves, the young couple who are the sole residents of the island where the husband is the lighthouse keeper decide to keep the baby and not report the death of the man to authorities. The book goes on to describe the consequences of this decision for all involved.

On the surface, it sounded like an intriguing plotline. Unfortunately, I didn't think the writing quite lived up to the good idea. It's the first novel for the author M. L.Stedman, so there's nothing else she has written to compare with, but I thought the writing style didn't do the plot justice. There were a lot of wasted words and scenes. It probably could have been half the length it was and been a much better read.

My copy from the library also had one of those Women's Weekly Great Reads stickers on the front of it. Those stickers don't usually make me want to read the book. In fact, to me they're like a great big sign saying "For schmaltzy and overly sentimental writing, come and read this." And that's what I thought by the time I got to the end. It seemed like a very superficial and sugar-coated treatment of the issues it was aiming to cover.

But obviously many other people (including book reviewers with far greater credentials than I possess) have really loved it. So I'm giving it a second read to see if it redeems itself on the second attempt. But at the moment, I'm sitting in the "not that great" camp.

As always, I'm happy to hear arguments from anyone who really enjoyed it and can convince me that it's the most marvellous debut novel ever written (or can find what it is that I may have missed)....

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