My Review: Truth be told, this book is a hard one to review. It had some bad things about it, but it also had some really good things about it. I think the best thing to do is to just break this down.
I’m sad this book is over. I felt like I was in the story, and even though it was somewhat monotonous at times, it was a good monotonous in that I felt like I was there experiencing the monotony of it with the characters. When it was over, I missed being there with those characters.
My granny is Scottish and she was raised there and so I have a strong connection to Scotland. I love reading about it, and I love the atmosphere of it—its cold, it’s rainy, I feel like it speaks to me. When I read books about it, it strengthens my resolve that I need to go there ASAP.
Nessie is fun, no matter what. Whether you believe there is actually a Loch Ness Monster or not, it’s fun to read about it and have it play a part in the story, even if it is or isn’t real. Nessie’s just fun.
The writing was okay. It wasn’t amazing, and I am a little disappointed after having read Water for Elephants and loved it so much, but whatever. Sometimes there is magic, sometimes not. There were some awkward writing bits in here, and it just didn’t seem as smooth as I thought someone with Gruen’s experience would be able to pull off.
The characters in this book were decent—I felt a connection to them—but what I did not like is that their story seemed really contrived and convoluted. So many things happened that I felt were huge leaps of conjecture. It’s like Gruen had a plan and just kept adding in more and more stuff to make that plan happen and it didn’t matter whether it fit or not. It was just really convoluted and almost soap opera-esque.
This book took on so much. It’s almost like three different books all smooshed into one—there’s Nessie and Loch Ness, there’s WWII (which almost seemed an afterthought), and there’s the abusive relationship (I’m not giving more than that away). There’s also high society during WWII. And mythic creatures in foreign lands. It just seemed really unfocused. I think there was too much going on and the author should have chosen her focus and stuck with that. As it was, nothing got too much attention and this ended up making the book seem contrived and at times trite. This also lessened the impact of the ending.
The ending. I liked the ending, all things considered, but I just think it ended really inelegantly. The epilogue was like a whole other sequel squished into a few paragraphs, and the ending itself had come from such a long and convoluted, unfocused story that her last paragraph—which is probably the first thing she wrote and so she just HAD to stick it in there no matter what—seemed like too little too late.
So. What to do? Well, I’m giving this book three stars because I missed it when it was over. It must have made some impact on me. Its writing style and unfocused nature maybe almost knocks it down to two stars, but some of the story brings it up to four, so I’m giving it an even three and walking away and feeling generous about it.
My Rating: 3 Stars