Good afternoon Kindle-ites! Before I get down the business of tearing this book to pieces (poor book) I first wanted to thank all of you for being so understanding in my need for “me time.” It has been nearly 2 years since I have had a vacation, and believe me when I say, it was LONG overdue. That said, I hope all of you had the opportunity to stop by and check out some of the wonderful (and sometimes controversial) guest posts throughout the month of June.
Alright, now that the formalities are out of the way (whew!) down to business.
Despite what is about to occur in the paragraphs to follow, my intention was not to barge out of my “hiatus gate” guns-a-blazing, and shoot down the first novel on my first day back, but my brain (obviously working with some alternative theory: The quicker you do it the less painful it will be.) had different plans… a’la “throw caution to the wind.” So here we are, a 2 star review.
When Tom Winton first approached me about reviewing his novel “Beyond Nostalgia” I was kind of excited. Here, in my eager little hands, was a book that not only had a fascinating product description, but the Amazon clout to back it up. (24 reviews, 22 – 5 stars and 2 – 4 star) This fact alone (if I were to consider previous experiences) boded well for the book I was about to read. (In case you were wondering…No, I didn’t actually read any of the reviews….that would be pointless now wouldn’t it.)
This is what the product description said:
“Born with blue in his collar, not in his veins, Dean Cassidy chronicles his soul-scarring rise from New York’s darkest alleys to a place somewhere nearer the top of his world. A human accomplishment as difficult as it is unlikely, his struggle is intensified by haunting memories of Theresa Wayman, his long-estranged teenage soul-mate. Theresa!Theresa!Theresa! She just won’t go away. For five years after losing contact with her, Dean anesthetizes his pain with the same things that caused it – boozy nights and faceless women. Then he gets lucky again. He meets, and soon marries, Maddy Frances Ronan, a woman so giving (and forgiving) she deserves to be canonized. Despite Dean’s many hang-ups and blunders, Maddy’s love for him never wavers. For two decades she endures all the jumped jobs, the time he goes postal, his frequent depressions and his ongoing anguish over the hostile corporate takeover of his and other American families. Even after she finds Dean unconscious, clutching a faded photograph of Theresa Wayman, she sticks by him. But their problems don’t end there. There’s a green cloud, known as money, that forever casts shadows on their happiness. Even when Maddy and Dean’s two boys enter school and she takes on a job, there’s never enough. That is until the eleventh hour when things are looking their bleakest ……… “
This is what it should have said:
“I’m confusing. On more than one occasion you may find yourself asking “What’s the point?” And, if that’s not enough, I don’t actually know what type of book I am. Therefore I skip around a lot to act as a diversion.”
Ok, maybe that was a little harsh, but let me explain.
Never once, have I read a book that felt like a romance novel, a how-to book, and a mid-life crisis memoir all smushed into one. Like I said…confusing.
That’s not to say that the book didn’t have it’s redeeming qualities, of course it did, all books do, but unfortunately…the problems that I encountered along the way overshadowed any of the headway I felt I was making.
Let me back up and start at the beginning. The LOVE story. The piece de resistance. The crème de le crème. The “SELLING POINT” of this novel, was grossly under-developed at its start causing a rather atrocious disconnect later in what (coincidentally enough) was supposed to be the climax of the book. For example: At a very early 19% we are offered up this statement:
“I had only known Theresa Wayman for three weeks, but for eighteen years my own innate need to love and be loved had been growing, intensifying, waiting for this person and this precise moment. I had loved her all that time. There had been a place in my heart reserved for her. I just hadn’t met her yet.”
Now, while the writing is actually quite awe inspiring, the context of it’s delivery felt forced and thrown together, (Almost as if Mr. Winton didn’t know how to get over the “love hump” so he threw it out there and hoped to God we were buying it.) The build-up for Dean and Theresa was almost non-existent. 1 walk. 1 heavy petting season. A few awkward moments and BAM!!! Life long, undying, irrational, destructive, COMPLETELY UNFOUNDED love. The reader was in no way allowed to experience the chemistry between the characters, to really FEEL their love for each other, therefore, the paths he chose because of her seemed nothing but naive and (quite frankly) hackney, versus the intended heartfelt and nostalgic.
Second, (and I think I’m going to stop after this…cause I don’t want to sound like a heartless bitch) the lead character (Dean) was the epiphany of “unlikable.” He cheats, he makes excuses for EVERYTHING, and worse…he wallows in his own self-pity for YEARS. And, as if to add pain to his (self-inflicted) punishment, he almost repeats all of his previous actions in the last 5% of the book only solidifying my previous label as “unlikable” making the book amost a chore to read.
While, I’m sure it’s obvious (by now) that I’m not a huge fan of this book, I do want to throw out one positive: the writing (like the example above) was really quite wonderful despite it’s lack of (intended) depth. I truly do believe that if Mr. Winton had spent as much time on building his relationships as he did stringing together streams of beautiful words…this book could have been a success. Here’s to hoping his next try is a better one.
Better luck next time…this one is a pass.
Happy Reading Kindle-ites and remember: if you don’t feel it in your heart, your head won’t believe it either.
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