a movie script looking for a willing & decent director
Book Review: The Heirs by Susan Rieger
A writer needs to read, a lot. In my case, most of my reads are cookbooks.
But as I go through the review notes from beta readers for ‘Not For You’, we got talking: perhaps I should pick up recent books with multi-generational stories and see...
How they have handled different time-capsules, perspectives and context.
How much dialog is good?
How much introspection is necessary?
What assumptions are OK for the writer to expect of his readers?
So, when I saw this title as an option in my book-review-request queue, I requested a copy.
The book is about the aftermath of the death of a patriarch, family dynamics and secrets. In many ways, except for the death part, I was looking forward to understanding how the author addressed family dynamics and the reveal of secrets, and of-course resolution.
From a writers’ stand-point here are my preliminary thoughts.
The language comes across as very ‘upper-crust’, meaning you would have to know the context, the upper-class culture, their lifestyles, and such. The dialog is curt and literal leaving no room for a breather.
The story-line assumptions are to the point of no return and the author makes no attempt to hint at what some of the references allude to. I understand ‘leaving it to the readers’ imagination’ but what if the reader never had any experience with the North-east American rich boy elite culture except what one saw in a movie?
The characters come across as cookie cutter stereotypes and I wonder if that was the original intent. If so, it makes for a predictable book, worthy only of a private-beach read, because well, you might even relate to being one of them, hate their life and return happy to be on your private sands with a cabana boy at your beck-and-call.
Many reviewers find the character of Elenore rather captivating and on that point, I agree but only partially. She seems like a less tragic, less public, story-book version of Jackie Kennedy, the beautiful, poised heroine who finds her spine and begins to speak her mind after her husband dies.
It looks like it was written for a movie script, Robin Leach will show up somewhere with his bling and try to make the rest of us feel envious or worse, content.
I am waiting to finish the book but it feels that each night the reading gets increasingly tedious for me because of its vague references, its predictable characters and seeming lack of soul. Hopefully it gets better, and if I change my mind when I finish the book, I will amend the review. But not until then.
Based on what other reviewers have felt about this book, and if this book is any indication of what a best-selling author produces for their second book, I think, that as a first time fiction writer, I think I'm doing better than OK. It did not answer my questions about conflict resolution as well as I had hoped but it showed me what NOT to do. One thing it does for sure, makes me feel a lot better about writing my own book and shows me pitfalls I should not be making. Like writing one-dimensional characters best suited for nondescript picture frame.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. As you can tell, the review remains unbiased, regardless of the promotion.