Author: Carole Marshall
Publisher: Haitsma Literary Agency
Published: October 24, 2011
Source: Received from author in exchange
for honest review
Read: March 24-31 2013
My Rating: 1 Star
Meet Dr. Amelia Payne: a veterinarian and educational writer. She is a single woman living in Washington State. She no longer defines herself as the daughter of a clown and a deceased mime. At the age of fifty, Amelia has built a life for herself where the past would never find her . . . or so she hoped. The tragic tale of Amelia's life is brought to the forefront, when Claude Croft, Amelia's childhood friend, calls her in hopes of locating a bracelet he had promised his father to find. Gripped by a similar promise, Amelia joins Claude in a venture to find the jewelled bracelet, only to learn that she finds more than she bargained for. Spiralled back into her old life, Amelia is right back in the thick of the eccentric characters that once coloured her youth.A story about holding on and letting go, Dearest uncovers the past Amelia thought she knew, reveals secrets she never could have known, and the truth she finally comes to know.
The synopsis of this book is what pulled me in, since it seemed a little mysterious, and I figured the eccentric characters would help fill out the story and maybe add a little lightness to it, since it seemed heavy. The eccentric characters were more entertaining and easier to relate to than Amelia, the main character, on all fronts. Even so, the secondary characters felt almost as flat and underdeveloped as Amelia. All in all, this story was extremely difficult to get into.
There are a lot of deaths in the story. The fact of the many deaths isn't necessarily bad, but what I didn't like is the lack of transition between the death /people leaving Amelia to the next parts of the story. There is no speculation on her part for the reasoning behind these events. She simply moves along to the next event. It's very disconcerting, and eventually, after the third or fourth occurence, it just started to feel like overkill.
Just how many deaths can a story take, especially one as short as this? I won't name them all off, but at my count there are at least 8, including two animal deaths, though I may have missed some. And there is close to no internal commentary about these from Amelia, which makes her even harder to identify with.
Amelia, as a character is very...stoic, I suppose I would say. She's very cut and dry. There's little interaction between her and other characters and when there is, it's somewhat unfeeling. She does have a relationship with Claude that is somewhat serious, but even that felt fake, almost like insta-love. Claude and Amelia have a few intimate scenes which are written in the same stiff, formal style, that just made them feel awkward. It would have been better if those scenes had been left out entirely.
Since Amelia was so difficult for me to connect with, I felt that the ending was lacking. The story comes to a resolution, and Amelia does show some growth. But, the process of getting to this growth and the repetition of her grandfather's message to her (which is an extended paragraph that I would guess was repeatedly written out, in full, at least 20 times) made the realization of her growth fall short. Instead of feeling happy for her that she finally learned what her grandfather had intended, I had the thought of "Finally! Now that message can stop." The ending leaves a lot to be desired, to say the least.
I do think that the main plot points of Amelia's father being a mime, her mother a clown, and her being stuck in the middle, as well as the secrets that are harbored by her parents do have potential. I applaud the author for trying to weave an intricate story around these elements, but the execution just didn't come together.
Unfortunately, I can't positively recomend this book based on my own reading of it. But, if you like characters like clowns and mimes, you might give this a try.
I am curious though, how many deaths of people close to them do you think a character can go through before it just seems like too much and starts to seem ridiculous?