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So, I’ll give you the good news first.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox would have had a hard time being any better. When I finished it, I wanted to start reading it all over again from the beginning and enjoy it once more. It was a letdown that it ended. It was the sort of novel you wish could somehow go on and on indefinitely. It was fantastic. It was a heady mix of mystery, intrigue, and twisted family secrets. I often wondered how “insane” Esme really had been, and whether the red dress that opens the novel would be linked to her…

Along with wanting to re-read The Vanishing Act and re-join Iris, and Esme, it made me want to hunt out everything else that Maggie O’Farrell had written and read it. ASAP.

Ever since I read The Extra Large Medium, I have been in the mood for well-written paranormal or para-magical (is that even a term?) stories. Fantasy with a firm grounding in reality. I want regular women doing regular things, with the occasional appearance of ghosts, magical powers, or extrasensory perception. Therefore, the famous and wildly popular Time Traveler’s Wife would seem to fit the bill exactly.

Unfortunately, this book has done nothing but annoy me almost from page 1. I made it about a third of the way through and gave up in irritated defeat. Could Clare be more of a Mary Sue? I have a hard time imagining how. Every other page seems to contain a reference to her ethereal loveliness, and she’s got that helpless clinging-vine thing down cold. Niffinger spends WAY too much time trying to convince her readers of how attractive her characters are to look upon and devotes shockingly little energy to making them interesting, sympathetic, or compelling. Henry seems like some sort of automaton – he’s just an animated dummy being shown off in all sorts of exotic display windows. He shows surprisingly little drive to try to find a workaround for his teleportation problem. Speaking of which, I think his story would be plenty interesting with out Clarey-Sue hanging around. I was regularly rooting for less back-story and more time-traveling.

Speaking of back-story, I also felt that “genetic defect” was a piss-poor way to explain Henry’s teleportation. It makes no sense and it’s just really dumb. It would sit a lot better with me if it were explained as the side effect of some sort of scientific trials, or an affliction from a malicious deity, or some other sort of paranormal activity. Teleportation/time-travel just isn’t a genetic thing. Even in fantasy literature. You just don’t inherit a temporal homing device or a lack thereof.

Anyway, what with the overwrought prose, the annoying characters, and the oppressive lack of any real action, I think I’m giving up on The Time Traveler’s Wife. I really wanted to like it, but I just don’t, and I’m pretty bummed out about that, actually.

Also the childhood Clare/adult Henry friendship angle? Creepy as all hell, in every possible way. The meeting of Clare and Henry for the “first” time (from Henry’s perspective) just gave me the skeevin’ wiggins. So. Much. Yick. The romance of their relationship, such as it was, made me crazy uncomfortable, and not in an intellectually-challenged way, but in a “grody-Daddy-Complex-can’t-watch-without-covering-my-eyes” sort of way.

4 Responses to “What I’m reading & what I’m throwing across the room”

  1. SewDucky says:

    The Time Traveler’s Wife was a better movie, imo.

    When I was locked in bed while pregnant, I went on a depressing tear with books like “Revolutionary Road” and “Atonement”. I’ll have to find the Esme one, so thanks for the suggestion!

  2. silence says:

    While she writes romance some of the more recent nora roberts books are ordinary people with an occasional ghost / para normal event.

  3. Meetzorp says:

    I’ll check it out. Any particular titles I should look into right off?

  4. Nimble says:

    I finished The Time Traveler’s Wife but the time traveling fetuses were really beyond the pale. I did like her sense of place. The urban landscapes and especially the home estate descriptions were lovely. An indulgent writer.

    A recommendation I got from Bookslut Jessa Crispin that you might enjoy: Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner, published 1926. I had to track it down (found a copy in the university lib) and really enjoyed it.

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