Teresa R. (Evansville, IN)
I am just not a fan of Ms. Pearls favorite doorway to fiction- character. The story was short, lacked depth, and seemed very superficial. The characters aren't developed enough for me to even decide if I like them! Luckily, the book is more like a short story!
Martha L. (Warner, NH)
mundane and plodding
One Minus One by Ruth Doan MacDougall is a book that was originally published in 1971 and has recently been republished by Book Lust Rediscoveries. The main character, Emily Bean is recently divorced and out on her own. She has been hired as a teacher for the first time and is struggling to find her way. The conflict within the book is internal within Emily. The action is minimal and the pace slow and reflective. Her pathway to a new start is cluttered with memories and distress at moving on in her life. To me, she is so deeply mired within the past, that I am unsure if she will ever be free of it. The book is broken into three sections each descriptive of current events/relationships within her life and part of her first school year.
Ruth Doan MacDougall is from New Hampshire as clearly evidenced in this novel. Despite the changing of names, to me many places are clear as to their location. There is a particular pleasure in knowing the places in a work of fiction. Especially, when they are shown in a clear light. (personally I think I waitress at the Pizza Hut on the Miracle Mile, but not during the time of the novel.)
This book was a meandering journey through the internal and external life of Emily Bean. I felt mired down in the depressive nature of the characters with their constant drinking and their nature, like they were just taking up space and following a path set before them. I felt like they were all trying to fill an ideal, but they were unhappy with the ideal. While I completely read the book and did not feel the need to stop reading or become disgusted with the book, I did want the character to move on. I was not bored, but not fascinated either.
I won this book from Bookbrowse and am expected to publish a review. I was generous in my rating of the book. I would have given the novel a 2 . It was well written and did not bore, but neither did it go anywhere or resolve itself.
Bess W. (Marlton, NJ)
1 - 1 = Nothing
I can't wait to read another book by Ruth Macdougall. I thoroughly enjoyed One Minus One. Having graduated college in the 60's and started my first teaching job shortly after there were many aspects of Emily's life that I could relate to, even her teacher's salary which was higher than mine!
Emily feels that she is nothing without her husband. It's difficult to forget about an important part of your life and start again. I would hope that as time goes on Emily will be able to make the emotional transition from married to single and realize that she can be whole without being married.
Sue (Saratoga, CA)
A for character development; D- for enjoyment
I'm a fan of Nancy Pearl (author of the Book Lust series) and wanted to read this book because she recommended it. Nancy mentions she read it years ago and still thinks about the main character. The book does deliver on character development and an excellent description of the 1960s, but it doesn't deliver on enjoyment. The main character's insecurities, hurt, and depression make this difficult to finish. I cannot say I would like to meet anyone in it. On the positive side, looking back at the 1960s and remembering those times almost make it worth reading.
Lisa G. (Riverwoods, IL)
One Minus One
This book was sweet but uninspiring. It takes place in rural New Hampshire in the late 1960's yet it seemed like the 1950's. The 60's were a time of exploring and taking risks yet this book was no more captivating than references to avocado appliances and harvest gold carpet. Nancy Pearl, the creator of the Book Lust series, chose to include this book for its character development. I did not feel drawn in by the characters and unlike her, did not wonder in the least about their lives after the book ended.
Joan V. (Miller Place, NY)
Trying to let go of the past
This is the first book that I've read by Ruth Doan MacDougall. I felt it should have been a short story rather than a book, although it is a very short novel. I really enjoyed her writing style; it was descriptive without being flowery. You could clearly picture the characters. I did not understand why the author included the diary of Emily's grandmother. I supposed it was to compare the marriages of "Ma," "Lucy" and "Emily." My first impression was on the negative side, but after giving it some thought, I decided it would make a good book club choice. The last part of the book and the ending would make for a very interesting discussion. I would like to read more by this author.
Deb Y. (Blanco, TX)
It's Not "The Cheerleader"
I read "The Cheerleader" by this same author years ago and always wondered if she had written anything else really enjoyable. I will continue to wonder.
It's also puzzling to me why Ms. Peart picked this as one in her new line of books that should be reprinted. Of course, I didn't like "The World According to Garp" either, so you might want to read this book and judge for yourself.