What is it that drew me in so completely to this story? It is rather well summed up in Lizzie's tantalizing review (left-hand column) here. That blurb was enough to get me to order the book from alibris--- it was written in 1947. And as luck would have it, arrived just before the holidays. The luck being, of course, that I would have time and energy to read.
Because despite its placid appearance there is tension in this story. A tension that I dropped into like Alice down the rabbit hole. Work tension. Two people competing for the same job tension. Plus a backstory that reveals how the character ended up in this battle.
Maybe I loved this story because I liked Charles Gray (the protagonist) so much. It's possible. Maybe cause I am intrigued by the world Marquand describes-- early 20th century New England viewed by a WASP. Perhaps. All I know is that for three days I was consumed and every spare moment I had was spent on the couch with this book.
Bits that I adored? I'm so afraid to give anything away--- but let me say I loved how the two primary women in Charles' life were revealed. Argh. This is so tough. I want to tell you specifically but if I do I would spoil your own discovery if you read this book. So I'll just say the way in which Charles' relationships evolve is utterly satisfying (I keep using that word, damnit!-- but it is the right word).
And? You know how I hate bad endings--- I stopped reading Margaret Atwood because she can't end a book to save her fucking life and it makes me insane! And angry. And who wants to get angry when they finish a book. Point of No Return? Perfect ending. Not too big. Not too small. Just right.
My only bone to pick in the whole thing was the name of the town, Clyde--- that annoyed me and never fit. Never. There's no such name anywhere on the coast north of Boston that I've ever heard of and it was just a wrong note for me. But I got over it, sort of.
The best news about falling in love with Marquand is that he has other novels. Right now (thanks again to Lizzie's rec) I have BF's Daughter ready to go-- now I just have to find those long lazy afternoons to crawl up on the couch.
P.S. You can likely get this from your library if you are in the U.S.-- author is John P. Marquand.
updated: January 11, 2005
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