Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Lovely, Indecent Departure by Steven Lee Gilbert

A Lovely, Indecent Departure: A NovelTitle:  A Lovely, Indecent Departure
Author: Steven Lee Gilbert
Publisher: Self Published
Published:  March 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 284
Source: Received from the author 
in exchange for an honest review
Read:  September 5-9th 2012
In A Few Words:  Confusing, flat, 
My Rating: 2 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis. A Lovely, Indecent Departure is the riveting and emotionally-charged debut from a promising new voice in literary thrillers, and a captivating story about a mother’s love and desperation set amidst the heart wrenching landscape of child custody. 

Anna Miller wants only one thing, her son, and she will do anything to keep him. When a district court awards custody of Oliver to his father, she abducts the five year old and flees to Italy where with her family’s help they disappear into the fabric of her native homeland. Told in prose that is both stripped-down and overpowering, Gilbert shapes the everyday conflict of child custody into a stunning search for sense of worth. Standing in the young woman’s way is Evan Meade, the boy’s guileful and mean-spirited father, who hires a private investigator when the efforts of the embattled local sheriff, Monroe Rossi, fail to track them down. But as the investigation draws them all closer to Anna, Evan’s true nature betrays itself and the question of what’s in the child’s best interest becomes not so clear anymore.

Objectively detailed, in a voice that refuses to intrude on the minds of its characters, A Lovely, Indecent Departure, captures in stark detail a world in which modern archetypes are turned upside down and shows what an extraordinary splash Steven Lee Gilbert has made with his first novel

Melissa's Musings:

I'm not really sure quite where to start with A Lovely, Indecent Departure. I wanted to like it, I really did. Unfortunately it just did not work for me at all.

The major problem that I had with this book was that there are no quotation marks around any of the dialogue. None. I know that probably seems like a petty, insignificant thing to have a problem with, but it truly did make a difference in how I read this book. Of course it's easy to tell when people are talking just by the nature of the words, but the quotes make it easier to differentiate, and faster to read. Without them, it's like reading page after page of prose, and it all tends to run together after a while.

Along that same line, some of the sections of the text are in Italian. This wasn't as major a problem for me because most of the time it was indirectly translatable, where you could tell what's being said. Plus, I took 4 years of Spanish in high school, and the two languages are similar enough for me to have gotten most of it. Still, there were certain sections where I missed what was being said entirely and it wasn't translated, so that was a little rough too.

For the most part, the story is decent. I did really feel for Anna and understood why she wanted to take Oliver away. Mainly, it was because Evan was a major A-hole. He is abusive, controlling and in some ways deadly. I won't give away any plot spoilers with him, but lets just say that it's easy not to like him. I would have liked to have known more about Anna and Evan's relationship and why they got together in the first place, or what she saw in him. These things are mentioned in brief snippets, but more background would have created a more urgent situation for why she had to abduct Oliver to Italy. I also would have liked to see more of the story from Olivers' perspective. There were just a few lines here and there and then a chapter at the end. I understood that the story is mainly focused on the adults, but I think Oliver's is a key perspective that was missed in the story.

There's a cute little romance between the sheriff and the town librarian, so that's a nice change of pace from the seriousness, but Monroe's character fell flat for me. I didn't understand what his real role was, because it seems like he wasn't doing much at all and just trying to avoid the situation of Oliver's kidnap altogether. Of course, since the FBI was involved I suppose there wasn't much he could really do, which makes me wonder why his character is so central. I think that his character's chapters could  have been replaced by chapters from the perspective of  Carl Demski, the FBI agent on the case and the story may have worked better.

I have to say that the scenes and parts of the book that describe Italy are really well done. There are a lot of cultural references and descriptions (as well as the use of Italian) that put the reader into the story, so that you almost believe you are in Italy while you're reading. This was a very nice touch.

Overall, the story was nice, but it just didn't suck me in like I was hoping it would. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to learn a bit more about Italy.

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.*


Anonymous said...

You've had a few books that you haven't enjoyed so much lately :-(
The sections of Italian-thing is so strange - who assumes that their readers will be able to follow whatever language you throw at them?
I think you did an awesome job of providing a clear and balanced review though, even though it wasn't what you were hoping for, and I liked your points for what you thought was missing/would have made it better. :-)

Melissa said...


I know, I've been a little bummed having to write these not so great reviews. But I do have a couple of books I've read lately that I like, I'm just waiting til October to post the reviews because they have to do with the supernatural/paranormal and October is the perfect month for that.

Thanks for your compliments on my review :)

Wall-to-wall books said...

I am sorry you didn't enjoy this one as much as I did.
I continually am amazed at how differently people can view the same book! I guess that's why there are so many genres!

Stepping Out of the Page said...

This sounds very interesting, but it's such a shame it fell short. It does sound like there's some interesting parts to this, but I might hold out to read something better!


kimbacaffeinate said...

Bummer you didn't enjoy this, thanks for sharing your thoughts and i so hope you next read is an over the top five star..