Off Key: Off Season

“It’s hard to say it, I hate to say it, but it’s probably me…”   Sting

I suppose it’s just me but I simply could not relate to this story.   It may well be me as I’ve read so many positive comments about this author (Anne Rivers Siddons) and also heard good things from friends and fellow readers.   The story certainly started off as cute with a prologue involving the main character Lily and the cat Silas, as they drive with Lily’s husband Carl’s ashes out on the road, on a journey.

But before the journey ever begins, we have to revisit Lily’s life as a child on “the wild coast of Maine,” and this is where the story came to a near halt for me.   Siddons writes about a privileged world where people hang out and vacation when they’re not in places like Hyannis Port or Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.   Or Boston or New York City or state.   “…wealthy people from Boston and New York had found the colony, and had bought up seaside land…  and built huge, rambling houses that cost nearly a million dollars and sent everybody’s taxes skyrocketing.   They were not loved.”off season 6

Siddons’ writing seems to be more real when she describes nature or places or scenes than people.   “We sank down in the velvety moss…  It was sun warmed…  the warmth was soothing…   Sleep came as it does outdoors: the sun hammered down on you, sounds faded out…  and then all sound was gone.”   I have, of course, no way to judge this type of scene being a west coast resident who has never slept on (on top of or in?) moss – and never slept outdoors in the daytime.

Let me put it another way.   I desperately wanted to climb up the hill that constituted this story but I found no toe holds, nor even places for my hands to grab.   Reading should not be this difficult, so – in the words of Joni Mitchell – when the hopes got so slim I just resigned.

It may be that Siddons – in her childhood and/or adulthood – has inhabited a world of privilege that is so genteel I simply cannot relate to it.   Maybe that’s it, exactly.   Or maybe it’s just me.   It’s probably me.

Thank you to Hachette Books for the review copy.

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One response to “Off Key: Off Season

  1. I have trouble relating to books set on the East Coast, too. I’ve always been stuck in the middle of the country or, as now, near the bottom of the map. I read two of Elin Hilderbrand’s books, this summer. They’re interesting — kind of gossipy — but the lifestyle is something I can’t even fathom. I don’t know that I’ll want to ever read another Hilderbrand.

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