Skip to main content

Review: Consolation, by James Wilson

One evening, celebrated children’s author Corley Roper meets a woman named Mary Wilson in a graveyard. Both have suffered the recent loss of a child, and both are more or less adrift in the world—Roper is estranged from his mad wife and finds that he cannot write anymore. Later, he embarks on a search to find out the secret of Mary’s birth.

Set nearly a hundred years ago, this novel is sort of sepia-toned, in a way. The tone of the novel is dark in parts, and it promised to be a kind of a Gothic mystery. The story as it moves you along is compelling enough, but the ending left me wanting more—and not in a good way, because it was extremely anticlimactic (I don’t want to spoil anything, but it made me think, “that’s it? Why the heck did Roper even bother?”). From the blurb on the back of the book, Wilson wrote this novel about his grandmother, but I’m afraid that he made quite a mountain out of a molehill with this one—Mary’s secret isn’t particularly new or interesting. And it’s not much of a secret, either, as you will find out if you read this book.

I loved the atmosphere of the novel, but it was marred by characters who behave in unlikely ways. Why is a young American woman running around Europe unescorted? Why are pretty much all the characters so laissez-faire about the possibility of divorce in an era when divorce still wasn’t taken lightly? There are also a number of really wild coincidences—Roper goes in search of Alice, and the first hotel he enquires in happens to be the hotel at which she’s staying! The novel also touches on a number of different ideas and movements that were starting to take shape in the early 19th century (early psychology, cubism), but he never really delves into them. In short, this was a short novel with a lot of promise; it just didn’t hang together well for me, I’m afraid.

Comments

Serena said…
This sounds like a good read...thanks for the review.

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…