Rated of 5
I thought this one of the most intelligent novels I have read, in that the characters are constructed so carefully that the devastating outcome of their actions becomes totally believable. It isn't the sort of novel I'd usually choose (Margaret Atwood is my favourite author) and I read it because of a reader's group a friend has set up. At first I was thinking 'very good of its type', its type being, I supposed, suspenseful thriller, a standard best-seller. But then I reached part II and it was as though Dubus had shifted up a gear, suddenly punching us with the full force of his literary power. It reminds me most of all of that bridge that collapsed after winds made it resonate at it's natural frequency... galloping Gertie?.... each character is a flawed human being, (as are we all), and these little, normal, everyday flaws pile one upon the other so that the situation reverberates out of control towards the climax. Amazing book.
I saw the film last night, a week after reading the book, and I think it's really only worth seeing if you haven't read the book and aren't going to. It's so weak compared with the book. Pretty scenery, but lacks the gut-wrenching depth, and the changed ending is a cop out despite the director's attempts to justify it.