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THE GUEST BOOK by Sarah Blake

Tags: island book money
One thing that annoyed me about this novel was the author’s overuse of the word “ranged” or “ranging.”  She uses “range” as a verb twenty times, and not in the way I would use it, such as in “a number ranging from one to a hundred.”  Perhaps this word usage is common to people who come from old money, and that’s why it seemed so odd to me.  This novel is indeed about old money, as in buying an island off the coast of Maine during the Great Depression.  Three generations of the Milton family have enjoyed summers on this island, with varying levels of attachment to it.  Evie is the modern-day character who wants to hold on to the island, not matter what the cost, but not all of her cousins agree.  As in many fictional family sagas, secrets abound, and even after I finished the novel I was unsure what Evie knew about her family’s past and what she didn’t.  For example, her grandmother Kitty’s firstborn son plunges through the window from the 14th floor of their apartment early in the book, but I was never sure whether subsequent generations knew about this accident.  They were, however, certainly aware that Kitty’s second son, Moss, died in his 20s in 1959, and the circumstances of his death are not revealed until the end of the novel.  Besides the fact that I could not relate to these people and their problems at all, I felt that the author was particularly hard on the characters of her own gender.  The women are mostly buttoned up and resistant to change, overly concerned with wallpaper and upholstery fabric, whereas the men are more open-minded, despite some unsavory business alliances.  At almost 500 pages, this novel spends way too much time describing the contents of the island house, and I just wanted to get on with the story.  Things do pick up in the last 100 pages, but not enough for me to declare that reading the first 400 pages was time well spent.



This post first appeared on Patti's Pages, please read the originial post: here

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THE GUEST BOOK by Sarah Blake

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