Quick Review: The Kept Woman

Title: The Kept Woman (Will Trent #8)

Author: Karin Slaughter

Published: 2016

The down low: Most recent addition to the Will Trent series

Summary in 2 sentences: When the body of an ex-cop turns up at a construction site that’s connected to one of the NBA’s most valued and powerful players, Will Trent senses trouble. Marcus Rippy has already gotten away with rape charges, and then a set of bloody footprints at the crime scene reveal that there was another victim – a woman who knows Will very well…

Why you should read it: I will admit that I got confused when I requested this from the library; I really enjoyed Pretty Girls and when I saw a new book by Slaughter was out I requested it immediately. Be warned that this is part of Slaughter’s really popular Will Trent series. I didn’t understand half the context and character relationships, but it was still pretty good. I’d imagine this would be amazing if you’d read the others.

How Books & Bachelorettes categorizes this book: Twisty detective story

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She’s Come Undone

This book sucked. I was going to try and write a professional blog post about it, but physically cannot do that. I would not recommend this book to my worst enemy, unless it was to see someone’s reaction to the truly horrible plot and execution of this storyline.

The story opens with Dolores Price and her parents who get a black and white TV when Dolores is three. The novel follows Dolores from there, through her early childhood into adulthood. Warning: spoilers ahead, but you really shouldn’t worry because I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU READ THIS BOOK.

Dolores becomes overweight in her early teen years, whether because of her parents’ divorce, her obsession with TV, or her rape by an upstairs neighbor, it is unclear. Dolores takes hit after hit and nothing seems to ever go right for her. First her parents get a divorce, next her mother has a nervous breakdown and has to be institutionalized, then she has to go live with her grandma, then she is raped by an upstairs neighbor, and finally her mother is killed in a freak accident.

I would not have liked this book if it was written by a woman, only because it seemed to be written in poor taste, if nothing else. BUT, this book was written by a man, which really irritated me. To be fair though, I was probably reading the lecturing tone into the book because I knew it was a man writing.

My main issue with this book was the fragmented storyline. Dolores leaves college after about one month and drives up to Cape Cod to see the beached whales. She takes a swim with the one dead whale and is subsequently rescued by a search crew that has gone out in search of her and sent to a mental institution for seven years. SEVEN YEARS. This part made no sense to me. It becomes obvious later in the novel that she did not admit to them that she was trying to drown herself in the ocean, so what makes them hospitalize her for seven years?

My second main issue with this book was the relationship between Dolores and her husband, Dante. This book could have turned itself around after her stint in the mental hospital. I was fully ready to embrace the book if Dolores got herself together and went off into a semi-normal life after staying in the hospital. But NO, she goes off and chases down her old roommate’s ex-boyfriend and starts to date him (the first real crazy thing she does the entire novel).

When Dante turns out to be a jerk, Dolores just goes with it, doing whatever he wants. When she gets pregnant, he makes her get an abortion and she doesn’t even leave him when she finds he has been sleeping with one of his high school students.

Dolores is just a lightning rod for bad luck. Also, is the message in the end supposed to be that TV is the root of all evil? Or that men are? I don’t get it.

-A

Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough; 2017

 

WHOA. I’ve read a whole bunch of recently published thrillers lately, and Behind Her Eyes has definitely come the closest to *shocking* with a twist ending. The publishers of this book really pushed the twist ending – literally, it’s all over the book jacket – but this was my Book of the Month pick for February, so I decided to go for it.

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It’s difficult to to review this book without giving anything away, so I’ll stick the main details. Louise is a single mom who on a rare night out meets a gorgeous man whom she really connects with; they kiss, but then he reveals he’s married and flees the bar. The following Monday, she arrives at work where she is a secretary at a private clinic, and meets her new boss. Who happens to be David – the same David from the bar. Just as Louise and David manage to work out their awkwardness and agree to be friends, Louise bumps into Adele, David’s wife. Adele is beautiful and lonely, and is eager to befriend Louise. As Louise is sucked deeper into her separate relationships with both spouses, she realizes that something about their marriage is deeply wrong. Why is David going out and getting drunk and kissing strangers when his wife is so perfect and devoted? And why does Adele want Louise to keep their friendship a secret from David? And more importantly – why does Adele have an ancient Nokia cell phone?

Although this book will undoubtedly be leveled with Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, it’s pretty far out of that realm – although, is it even a thriller these days if the main character doesn’t drink too much?? It’s difficult for me to decide exactly how I feel about this, particularly because there are some crossing of genres that sort of confused me. Anyway, what I do know is that I quite literally could not put this down. I read it in a few hours this afternoon. The ending is certainly a twist, and most definitely unnerving.

In my opinion, too much was given away too early, but although I had a pretty good idea of where the story was going, I was definitely surprised by the very final twist. Absolutely someone should option this for a movie asap.

And now, for real, I will stop reading thrillers with girl/her/woman in the titles.

-M

 

 

The Neapolitan Novels

I’ve finally finished the Neapolitan Novels! It took me seven months and at times I debated not continuing but I am glad that I persisted. The novels follow two women throughout their lives growing up and old in Naples, Italy in the middle of the 20th century. The first novel, My Brilliant Friend, depicts Elena and Lila in their elementary school days. The Story of a New Name picks up with the two women in high school and follows Elena to college in Pisa. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay is about the two women as they learn how to be mothers and The Story of the Lost Child is the story of the two women as they have their final children and begin to age.

Warning: do not read ahead if you are worried about spoilers

The novels revolve around the central relationship between Lila and Elena. From a young age, Lila is the brightest student in her classes, and Elena dutifully follows her. The two girls turn to books to shelter them from the violence and poverty of their Naples neighborhood. Lila, however, is quickly drawn into this poverty by her family and childhood friends, while Elena escapes by continuing her education. The juxtaposition of the two women as they grow up becomes more evident as Lila marries a local merchant before she is 18 and Elena goes off to a top school in Pisa.

In the end of the series, the question is not whether or not education allowed Elena to escape the typical feminine trap of motherhood and the squalor of her Naples upbringing, but rather if the friendship has revolved around the exploitation of Elena by Lila. Has Elena’s life been a series of moves decided upon by Lila years previously? How much of Elena’s success as an author can be attributed to Lila, who has always pushed her to do more and better things?

I really thought for the majority of the first three books that the story was about Elena escaping from the typical story of a woman in Naples. Thanks to her education and drive to succeed, Elena would escape the fate of her mother, Lila, and all the other women who passed before her through the poverty-ridden streets of Naples. In the third book, however, Elena’s marriage begins to crumble and she starts an affair with an old school friend. The old school friend, Nino, already has numerous children with other women, and had previously been involved with Lila. Elena will not listen to reason and leaves her husband for Nino.

This affair drags Elena back into the world of Naples, and everyone is quick to remind her how they had expected more from her because of her education and modest reputation as a feminist writer. What ends up mattering in the end is Elena’s relationship with Lila, and when the two women have daughters at the same time (Elena’s with Nino and Lila’s with her business partner, Enzo), they become closer and decide to write about the violence in their neighborhood.

Their fragile relationship (hurt at this point by Elena’s relationship with Nino and Lila’s attempts to push Elena into writing about dangerous political topics) breaks down when Lila’s daughter, Tina, disappears. Tina is never found, and in the final pages of the fourth novel, it becomes evident that Lila blames Elena for this disappearance. The final page is almost uplifting, taking us back to the time as children that Elena and Lila lost their toy dolls and never recovered them. This loss of their dolls pushed them into buying Little Women, and set Elena on her literary path to success.

On the final page, Elena, an old woman living alone in Turin, discovers a package on her doorstep. Lila has now been missing for numerous years and Elena has had no contact with her. In the package are Tina and Nu, the two dolls who were thought lost all those years ago. You can take this either as Lila’s attempt to reach out and assure Elena that she is alive and well, or you can take it as Lila telling Elena that every move Elena has made since she was a small child was orchestrated by Lila.

Lila lost the dolls on purpose to push Elena into buying a new toy, a book, and from there Lila had pushed her to school, to study, to write about things that Elena would never have dreamed up without Lila by her side.

You can find my other reviews on the books in the series below:

The Story of a New Name

My Brilliant Friend

-A

All the Missing Girls

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda; 2016

Well, I think this about the fourth book I’ve read in the past month with “girl” in the title. Definitely taking a breather from these Girl on the Train type thrillers after this one.

Nicolette Farrell left her rural North Carolina hometown ten years ago, after her best friend Corinne disappeared when they were teenagers. Nic, her brother David, her then-boyfriend Tyler, and their close-knit circle of friends were at the center of the investigation of Corinne’s disappearance. Nic comes back home to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father. But only a few days into Nic’s return, another girl goes missing. Annalise Carter lived in the house behind Nic’s childhood home, and was dating Tyler.

Told backwards, from day fifteen of Annalise’s disappearance to day 1, Nic works to uncover the truth about the girl’s disappearance as well as Corinne’s, revealing – as expected – many shocking secrets about the town and her loved ones.

Here’s what I’ll say. All the Missing Girls definitely held my attention, there were a lot of twists and turns, and it was more challenging because it was told in reverse. HOWEVER, I was very disappointed with the final, most important twist, and ended up just feeling like it was told in reverse to distract the reader from the fact that it isn’t really that remarkable of a narrative. I would actually be interested to read this in reverse and see if it made more sense to me/was more shocking. I did find Megan Miranda’s writing very engaging, and am actually really looking forward to her next book, The Perfect Stranger. That one sounds like a single white female situation – woot woot.

-M