RW Book Group August 2004

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

81 to 91 of 91 messages
03/09/2004 at 14:27
I've read all the Robert Goddards (apart from the latest hardback) and I always enjoy them.
04/09/2004 at 14:37
Lovely Bones - Another book a touch over-hyped I thought. A good idea was let down by some dubious plot developments. Enjoyed it but it won't stay in the memory that long.
06/09/2004 at 13:49
Oh dear. Glad someone else got the vicious reviews in first.

Overall this book was something of a rollercoaster for me.

Stage I
Promising start, description of the crime was horrible and shocking in the matter of fact way it was told. After that the story lost its way.

Stage II
I found myself getting annoyed at the cliches and steroetypes. The serial killer was as multi-dimensional as a cardboard cut out. Characters were not real. The writer seems to have learned about people from watching TV movies. Overuse of stereotypes, dotty grandma, inscrutable asian women...

I was particulary annoyed when the bloke with Irish grandpa sings a "dirge". Who the hells sings dirges? I'm from Dublin and if anyone asked me to sing, I would hit them with my shillelagh and pelt them with rotten potatoes. Begorrah.

Some of the writing was just poor. It seemed to be not just a first novel, but a first draft. some of my favourites. Susie's father says something "breezily" - does he have asthma? "Hal asked, incredulous" - bikers arent incredulous about riding a bike in the rain. Especially bikers who hang out with Hell's Angels.
There was an interview with Elmore Leonard in Friday's Independent. One of his rules is: Never use an adverb to modify the verb ''said''. Ms Sebold would do well to heed this advice.

Lot of the writing seemed to me to be just padding. I tried to re-read some parts of it and found it a painful experience. Even the opening chapter shows up its flaws on re-reading.

End Part 1
06/09/2004 at 13:51
Stage III
I was still uncomfortable at the contrived nature of much of the writing. The characters werent believable. It felt like the writer made things happen to the characters purely for effect. Why did the mother order coffee and toast? So that that the writer could write about "buttering the toast with her tears". Although my first instinct was to reach for the airline sickbag, I admit I laughed out loud at this. The book didnt seem so grim after that.

In this stage I started to enjoy the book in a perverse way, looking out for the bad writing or ridiculous characterisation.

The highpoint for me was the scene at the old victorian house. The writer tries a bit
of "observation" about bike handling which she gets wrong. Then there is a reference to leathers and perversion - that sort of connection doesnt fit with the time, early 80's? Samuel talks about tongue and groove, than Lindsey handily remembers that Samuel is obsessed with carpentry, masterly writing or padding? Of course they have sex, why else did they the rain force them to stop at that spot. Another LOL when Samuel proposed. Within minutes of proposing Samuel uses the words "hideous, hideous" and talks about making the house gorgeous. Personally I dont think think the marriage will last, but he does have a future in interior decoration.

I would forgive the writer everything if at this stage Mr Harvey is captured (perhaps tripped up by some gorgeous tongue and groove floorboards), and lead handcuffed from the house while muttering "I would have got away with it too if it wasnt for those meddlin' kids..."
Golden opportunity missed.

Other random points
- What was the point of Hal?
- damned clever of Hal to solve a murder while adjusting a timing chain and talking to a Hell's Angel (who "admits freely he had spent some time in prison" - LOL, what's that all about?)
- Grandma in pantyhose and makeup? Anyone else get an image of gran wearing nothing but pantyhouse and makeup while baking muffins for Hal, LOL
- date of murder very specific but no other sense of the time
- lot of irrelevant people get named, more importance than they should have
- What are the odds of two people dying of mushroom poisoning then being found by a serial killer?
- icicle, LOL
- Ms Sebold really cant write male characters
- necrophiliac sex scene just ridiculous

Overall, not a good book. A triumph for the marketing department.
06/09/2004 at 14:11
But Richard & Judy liked it!
06/09/2004 at 14:13
I'm smiling to myself here Briano because I also thought the Irish singing bit didn't ring true. And I'm not even Irish. I was thinking to myself, OK What song exactly is he singing??
06/09/2004 at 14:23
probably Danny Boy:-(
06/09/2004 at 14:28
I'd like "The Parting Glass" for my funeral dirge :)
06/09/2004 at 15:10
Perhaps R&J could also see the comedy value in it.

Interesting question about what song he was singing. Perhaps its the one that goes:
#Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones...#
06/09/2004 at 15:13
07/09/2004 at 23:05
enjoyed the book, but it was the one before it that alice wrote on past experience. (sorry i'm picky) enjoying kathy reichs at the mo much better than patricia cornwall. anybody read karin slaughters new one, bought it the other day but havn't started it yet.

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