Title: The Puzzle Bark Tree
Author: Stephanie Gertler
Published: 2002 Pages: 319
Gasp! Holy Hannah, a book review! Truth be told this is a library book and I'm getting emails from the library threatening to take away my shiny new library card if I don't return the book, and if I don't write at least some thoughts on the book before I return it I never will. Who knows if I'll ever get to those finished in 2009 or not let alone a year in review, but gotta start back somewhere, right?
Kind of wish I could start with the fabulous books I ended 2009 with--Hunger Games, Goodbye Tsugumi, Breaking Dawn, Cry The Beloved Country. But I guess maybe starting with an "eh" book is just as good a place as any. Hmmm, why does it feel like I'm stalling?
The Puzzle Bark Tree was my January book club pick and I don't think any of us were really blown away by the book. Some liked it better than others, but I guess that's to be expected when you get a group of people reading the same book. The story begins with an elderly couple, the Hammonds, is found dead in their beds. They are discovered by their longtime housekeeper, Jemma, and when Jemma calls the daughters Grace and Melanie to inform them of the horrific news they both immediately know that their parents committed suicide.
The Hammonds have led a life of hermitude (I may have just made up that word?) never allowing anyone to get close to them, even Grace and Melanie. When it came time for Grace and Melanie to learn the contents of their will they were both shocked to find that Grace was left a house several hours away from where they grew up. Grace embarks on a journey to discover the home she was left and begins opening doors to mysteries and a life long forgotten.
My friend Laura finished this one before me (I actually didn't finish until after our meeting...) and she described the book to me as something you might see on a Hallmark or Lifetime Channel special. Pretty accurate description. Poor Grace has just uncovered a past she never knew she had but her selfish and unsupportive husband simply cannot understand her sudden confusion about her life. Throw in a whiny teenaged daughter and a potential love affair and you have all the makings of a great melodrama.
I'd throw this book into the "OK" category. I'd recommend it to those who like Anita Shreve type books (which I like OK). It has depth and good character development. There's an element of mystery and of course love interest. It's fairly predictable in a way (at least in hindsight)--actually it's a totally harmless book and is certainly entertaining enough. I think the bottom line is it just isn't my kind of book. I wouldn't recommend it for book clubs--we had a few things to talk about but conversation finally fizzled out as we began to talk about the other books we're currently reading.
A totally rambling and nonsensical review. Guess that's what happens when the book just doesn't speak to you one way or another. I ended up finishing it after the book club meeting if that tells you anything?
Are you reading anything exciting right now? I just started Les Miserables this morning. It might take me all damn year, but I have high hopes. Ha!
Dinner's ready--so ramble off.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Title: The Puzzle Bark Tree