As this month’s blog formatter, my review shall be first. Ironic, really, as this is my least favorite of all eleven books that our group has read.
If I had picked this book up myself, without book club intent, I would have abandoned it long ago. It was also about a million pages long! Well, not really, but 480. And our usual books come in around 200 or less, so it was a little bit difficult.
If only, like the Pirates of the Caribbean, I could make this book walk the plank. Actually, the book could be the plank.
A quote from the book sums up most of my feels about the length of this book and the annoyance of reading it on my Kindle. “Perhaps he’ll really get through [the books] this time, though he’s infuriated that his e-reader allows him only to know the percentage of a book he’s read, not the number of pages. This, he thinks, is 92 percent stupid.” (page 46) The software on my kindle updated, so it didn’t even show me the percentage! (Side note: this issue has been resolved! Current book on the Kindle has page numbers and everything! Thank goodness!)
It was fortuitous timing, on the other hand, because I had my ten year high school reunion the weekend before we got together to chat. My reunion fulfilled some of the many things happening in the book. One of the things that I did appreciate in the book book was the concept of “sightings.” In the book, it was seeing someone from the summer camp in the real world. I do the same thing with high school “sightings.” There are always inevitable comparisons, and remembering what they were like however many years ago.
Pudding Pie (The Good Bits)
Quite frankly, there were not enough of the good bits for me. There were moments of humor that I appreciated, like the above quote about e-reader books. When I found these gems, it was a moment of relief.
Dennis. Dennis is Jules’ husband. They meet at a dinner party in the 1980s and remain together despite his depression and their marital problems. He seems to be the one voice of reason that does not carry all the baggage that the rest of the group has, after knowing each other for so long. He is the character that I related to, and the only one who questioned the relationships in the group.
Made Me Cry (The Bad Bits)
My major gripe with this book was not the story. The story had potential. Each character had its own arc that could be, you guessed it, interesting. Alas, no such luck. The problem was the structure. The entire book felt like it was being told as memories. There was no sense of urgency, no sense of action. It felt disconnected. Adding to this feeling was that nothing went chronologically. Not that that is often a concern for me, but a chapter would start out with an event that happened in, say, 2007 and all of a sudden the memory turns into a different one from camp thirty years ago. Or a dinner party in 1986. Or an event that happened in the early 1990s before eventually ending up back in 2007 at that same event. It felt a little disorienting and sometimes took a few minutes before what was happening could be understood and placed.
The character of Goodman. I cannot ruin this part of the book for you, as it becomes an important trajectory in the story. But I did not like it! At all! I found it frustrating. And that is all I can say about these things. His physical presence in the book is almost secondary, he seems to represent some ideal, and the way that each of the characters deals with this ideal was incredibly frustrating for me.
End result: 1 out of 5 pudding pies
Did others wax rhapsodic about this book, or were they too finding the title a bit of a misnomer? Read on for Victoria’s review…