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A Small Indiscretion
A brilliantly paced debut novel about one woman's reckoning with a youthful...
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How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

Created: 01/08/16

Replies: 23

Posted Jan. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

The novel takes the form of a confessional letter from Annie to Robbie. It also moves back and forth across two decades and spans three continents. How did this structure affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?


Posted Feb. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

Initially I found the constantly changing time frame/flashback technique confusing - not because of the device itself (any number of authors use it) but because of the frequency of the switching and the relative proximity of the of time frames. As I moved further into the story this became less of a problem, partly because the author made less frequent switches and partly because I was more comfortable with the progression of the story line. In the early stages of the book, the structure really got in the way for me.


Posted Feb. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I agree with laurap, the structure was very difficult in the beginning of the story. It really interfered with getting to know the characters. As I became more comfortable with the characters and the themes of the story it became easier to follow.


Posted Feb. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lois Irene

Join Date: 01/20/16

Posts: 33

RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

Moving around in time seems to be a popular device for recent novels. (All the Light We Cannot See, Girl on the Train.) It peaked my interest in that I was really wondering what she had done! But I agree with reene and laurap that it was sometimes confusing at times almost a bit contrived?


Posted Feb. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CAC

Join Date: 12/15/15

Posts: 19

RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I agree that in the beginning it confused me but it is being used a lot as in the books mentioned and Descent but I don't mind. I like drawing conclusions about characters and plot by meeting characters at different points in their lives. I want to keep reading to see how accurate my conjunctions are.


Posted Feb. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
hazeyr

Join Date: 03/24/12

Posts: 19

RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

As Annie delved into her past moving back and forth in time, I was able to follow along and did not have difficulty with this format. There was, however, another element of the structure that did slightly affect my overall opinion of the book. Annie's story is told to her son, but it was sexually quite explicit, and I found myself uncomfortable, not because it was explicit, but because she was telling it to her son. Although I don't have children, I don't think I would give personal sexual details to a son. I'd be interested in hearing other readers' thoughts on this. Otherwise, 5 stars!


Posted Feb. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beac

Join Date: 08/23/11

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I was really confused with the jumping around in time since it was more jumping than most of the modern novels that do that. "Twenty years ago this happened, then six months later that happened, then three months before that, this had happened" was too hard for me to follow. I kept reading it after going onto Goodreads to see if it was worth it. I ended up not being able to put the book down during the last third of the book.


Posted Feb. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Retired Reader, NE

Join Date: 09/16/11

Posts: 165

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I did not like the structure of the book. What happened to telling a good story in a straight forward linear fashion. This technique of jumping from past to present is being over used.


Posted Feb. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
deeh

Join Date: 03/03/12

Posts: 158

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I was not bothered by the structure of the book, but I was bothered with Annie's intimate disclosures to her son, Robbie. I agree with hazeyr on that score.


Posted Feb. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 163

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I agree with hazeyr as well. Even though her son is an adult, and it's clear he will need some of that infomration, I don't think that level of detail is appropriate. Some things are TMI.


Posted Feb. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CoventryReader

Join Date: 08/04/11

Posts: 25

RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I have to admit that the structure of the book turned me off at the beginning; I even wondered if I would be able to read the book. I know that this is a literary device that writers seem to be using quite a bit now and I've had problems continuing with other books that use this style. But I perservered and got past the confusion and found that I enjoyed the book anyway. I started reading The Girl on the Train and was unable to get very far because the style of moving between two time periods felt confusing. After having finished A Small Indescretion, I intend to go back and give The Girl on... another try.


Posted Feb. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I do have to agree with laurap that if by structure we are talking about the letter to her son, then way too much sexual background is being given. While reading the book, the reader tends to forget about the letter because of the content.


Posted Feb. 09, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sheryls

Join Date: 02/09/16

Posts: 4

RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I agree with above in regards to the confusion in the beginning and the sexual background to the story. The book reminded me a bit of Laura Moriarity's The Husband's Secret.


Posted Feb. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 392

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I did not like the structure of the book and in general do not like stories told in two time periods that do not allow earlier time to be fully told before getting into the present. Perhaps it is just lazy brain on my part but it always rather irritates me. Every time I read a book that moves back and forth in time I am a little frustrated and it makes me judge the book a bit harshly.


Posted Feb. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alisonf

Join Date: 01/31/13

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

The format was good and I find that this structure can give you a break from each story line. I thought that it was helpful in propelling the plot. I really didn't take the letter to her son as something that would actually be delivered to him at first but considering who her son's love interest was, I understood some of the details--though I think the sexual details were for the reader's benefit not really for info the son needed to that level.


Posted Feb. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CoventryReader

Join Date: 08/04/11

Posts: 25

RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

As I said earlier, the structure of the novel was confusing at first. Once I realized how the story was being told I was able to move beyond that. Now that I am aware that many novels are being written in this style I have trained myself to prepare for it as I begin each new book. I think it's an effective way to tell a story because you are moved along more quickly and with more interest as the plot develops. You don't have a chance to get tired of the plot because you're being challenged to shift between two time periods.


Posted Feb. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terrio

Join Date: 08/16/11

Posts: 60

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

Usually, I don't mind stories that move back and forth in time. However, I found that device confusing in this novel because the author didn't always make it clear which time period she was referring to. The 20-years-ago period was obvious, but the chronology of events in the present-day period was very unclear until towards the end of the book. I think if the author had more clearly differentiated the present-day time period, I would have been less confused.

I agree with others that the level of sexual detail in the book was definitely not appropriate given that Robbie was the intended audience.


Posted Feb. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
aleksandrae

Join Date: 02/25/14

Posts: 40

RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I did not mind so much the moving between time periods...but it did take me a while to get accustomed to the fact that she was speaking to her son. I found that a bit unusual and frankly did not understand why she would be telling her child some of these things. I am unsure of the purpose in telling this story to him as well. Why not just tell the story...to the reader or even to her husband.


Posted Feb. 12, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Suzanne

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 223

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

Some remark that the structure regarding the letter being addressed to Robbie was not appropriate because of it's sexual content. I don't believe there was any intention to give the letter to Robbie; that it was written by Annie as a release. Let us just hope Annie didn't put it in her hatbox as a keepsake—surely Robbie might find it someday!

Going through the last pages, I find Annie put the letter in a safe deposit box ". . . where the story. . . can't do any more harm." Oh, oh. Why not destroy it? It's served its purpose.


Posted Feb. 14, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nancyh

Join Date: 06/25/13

Posts: 147

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

Many readers had the same problem with following the story at the beginning, however, I did get into it as the story went on. I had just finished reading All The Light You Cannot See when I read this book. I feel the story would not have been as good if it had not been done this way. We find out about Annie's life as we need to.


Posted Feb. 15, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 294

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I had a little difficulty working my way into this book at first, and then was pleased to enjoy it more as it progressed and I'd figured out how often the time shifts were taking place. What never stopped bothering me, however, was the fact that this was a mother talking to her son.


Posted Feb. 15, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

Posts: 271

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RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I like this style of writing but as others have mentioned, the shifts ans changes were very frequent. I think she did give a lot of information about the affair to her son, but since the book was written as a letter to him, I don't know how the reader would have known about her past any other way. The author must have felt that level of detail was important for the reader to hear.


Posted Feb. 16, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurag

Join Date: 04/16/12

Posts: 11

RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

I typically like this kind of hopping between present and past (i.e. The Time Traveler's Wife.) But it was very unclear in the beginning to whom she was speaking and in which time period she was. It did become easier and I ended up really liking the book, albeit very dark.


Posted Feb. 16, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
caroln

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 48

RE: How did the structure of the novel affect your reading experience? Does the structure remind you of any other novels?

Author skillfully weaves two plots as she unveils the details of each of them piece by piece. At first it was a task to follow but I believe it makes for a good book club discussion.


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