Janet P. (Spokane, WA)
disappointed in the affair
I am a huge Jess Walter fan so when I read his comments regarding this book I was excited. However, the book was a forced read for me. I felt I owed it to the publisher to read a book that was given to me free of charge, so I did. The main character was clearly a tortured soul who was filled with sadness woven with guilt regarding her husband's death. But, she didn't earn my respect or curiosity. I read with confusion her thoughts and imaginings. The angst of the characters was real, but hard to follow. I feel like my husband's description of the University of Chicago graduate philosophy program fits this story line: obtuse and arcane. I finally got into the book enough to be interested in how it ended. I definitely enjoy a book that presents deep, real characters. These characters were deep and somewhat realistic, but the action was just too hard to follow. I'm making it sound terrible, and it wasn't that. The voyeurism of the narrator was creepy and real along with sad. But all in all, I had to work too hard to follow the plot. It seems to be a novel that will attract those who love to enjoy their own intellect.
Susan K. (Dartmouth, MA)
A new author to keep track of.
I'll start with the positives: yes, I will probably read this author's next book, the reason why is because of the hauntingly beautiful, evocative writing this debut author exhibits. I found myself marking sentences and paragraphs as I went along, reading them over, sometimes aloud, as poetry (Kudos to you for that, Ms. Loyd!).
That said, I actually read the entire book twice, because the storyline was so dense with the characters' actions and details I couldn't digest it properly in one read (not really a criticism). My main criticism is of the gratuitous sex throughout, with violence towards women. Though I understand why the author might have done that, I'm sorry she did. I guess what bothered me just as much was that the characters did not really seem to have changed at the end of the book, even though the author ended the book on an upbeat note (but it wasn't, really).
I loved the the themes of separateness, privacy, personal boundaries, lost and found love, but the pervasive unhealthy sexual relationships kind of soured the whole reading experience for me.
Karen R. (Columbus, OH)
Flawed, but interesting characters
This book is well written and has interesting characters. Not necessarily all likable, but interesting. A widow owns an apartment building. You get to know the people in each apartment. It was a book I found myself thinking about even while I was not reading it.
Darra W. (Walnut Creek, CA)
This is a tough one! I echo the comments of many previous reviewers: the writing was the best part of this first novel. For that alone, I might have rated it 4 or 5 stars; however, the intriguing premise (youngish woman struggling with the isolation of early widowhood) was betrayed by the plot itself, which felt strained--a conscious effort to convey an edginess that bordered on the gratuitous--and the ending felt rushed and contrived. Disappointing.
Annie P. (Murrells Inlet, SC)
The Affairs of Others
I have mixed feelings about this book. The writing was superb; I enjoyed Loyd's descriptive text and interactions. Many of the pages are marked where snippets jumped out at me. I wasn't so wild about the subject matter after I got into the story. Maybe I'm a little behind the times, or not that interested in the kind of relationship that drove most of the rest of the story. The characters, Celia, Hope, Mr. Coughlan, and other minor characters were well-fleshed out, varied in their make-up, and truthfully written. The settings were beautifully described.
I will definitely read Loyd's novels in the future.
Shirley L. (Norco, LA)
Beautiful Written Not Enjoyable Experience
On page 2 the narrator, Celia, tells us that when her husband died a lot of her went with him. It is a tribute to the author's skill that this sense of "deadness" permeated the story. A beautifully written story that I did not much care to read.
Marjorie H. (Woodstock, GA)
The only thing that kept me going to the end of this book was the superb writing. And considering the morbid cast of characters this book needs all the help it can get.
A group of dysfunctional, barely making it misfits trying to get through life by escaping is not new news. I didn't like any of the characters, especially Celia - whose sanity is teetering on the brink. She's carrying a heavy load and should have gotten help a long time ago. I found the sex gratuitous and mildly offensive.
Everything comes together beautifully thanks to Mr. Coughlan who comes in at the end to rescue this sorry lot. A thoroughly delightful character, I wish there had been more of him. This book was basically a downer. No new news here.