Rated of 5
by 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.