April 23, 2011 · 11:01 am
The Life You’ve Imagined: A Novel by Kristina Riggle (Avon; $13.99; 334 pages)
“…I’m thinking of making a change myself.” She gapes up at me, searching my face as if she’s not sure who I am. I know the feeling.
If you love the novels of Elizabeth Berg, and especially The Last Time I Saw You, you’re likely to feel a great sense of fondness for this book by Kristina Riggle. As with Berg, she hits the sweet spot of human emotion in telling the stories of women who’ve arrived at the point in life where they must either evolve or accept their failure in life. In the words of Bob Dylan, Riggle’s characters are either busy being born or they are busy dying.
Like Berg’s The Last Time, this is an ensemble piece… The Life is about four women, three still relatively young and one clearly not, who are united by circumstances in the town of Haven, Michigan. Haven is not to be mistaken with Heaven.
Anna Geneva is the high-powered Chicago attorney who returns home after being rattled by the death of an older male colleague and mentor. Here she must deal with her mother Maeve, whose mom-and-pop convenience store is failing. Morever, Maeve holds out hope of being reunited with the man who long ago abandoned her and Anna. Anna will also encounter two of her best female friends from high school – Cami Drayton, who has come back to live with a monster of a father, and Amy Rickart, the now slender and beautiful bride-to-be who used to be overweight and socially ostracized.
Only Amy lives a life to be envied as she prepares to marry the loving and considerate man of her dreams. But her husband-to-be’s career will place him in conflict with Anna and Maeve and Cami and she will soon come to wonder about his values in life. She will even come to wonder if he loves her at all after he announces that their wedding must be postponed.
About three-quarters to four-fifths of the way through the telling of this tale, you – the reader – will figure out exactly what the resolution will be. Except that Riggle has other ideas and soon you’re following unexpected twists and turns as you near the end. In this fashion, it’s like real life which is never quite what we imagined it would be.
A review copy was received from the publisher. “A richly woven story laced with unforgettable characters…” Therese Walsh, author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy
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Tagged as a novel, A+, Anna Geneva, author insights, Avon Books, Bob Dylan, book review, Chicago, Elizabeth Berg, Elton John, engaging story, extras & more, family novel, female protagonists, fiction, HarperCollins Publishers, Haven, Joseph Arellano, Joseph's Reviews, Kristina Riggle, life lessons, Michigan, mother and daughter, Out of Time, Peachtree Road, personal values, popular fiction, Real Life & Liars, recommended books, The Last Time I Saw You, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, The Life You've Imagined, Therese Walsh, twists and turns, Weight of the World, women's literature
December 6, 2010 · 6:26 pm
Coming Back: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller (Grand Central Publishing; $24.99; 304 pages)
In this, the 28th mystery novel featuring San Francisco private investigator Sharon McCone, author Marcia Muller explores the collateral damage wrought by McCone’s experience in a conscious vegetative state that resulted from a bullet to her brain. McCone’s chapters are in the first person and the reader is pulled along as she tries to resolve her need to get back in the action and maintain her relationship with her husband.
This reviewer’s lack of familiarity with the series made it difficult to appreciate just what sort of life McCone is struggling to maintain. The references to flying her husband’s private airplane, a vintage sports car, multiple homes on acreage and a staff at her beck and call made McCone less than the pitiable victim Muller tries to characterize.
The theme of the book seems to be that interfering in other people’s lives is a rewarding activity. Since there is no paying client, the reward must be purely emotional. Although the loosely developed story is set in San Francisco, there are action scenes that take place in Muir Woods, Walnut Creek and along the east side of the Bay. In each instance, the setting was well known to this reviewer and did not seem the least bit scary. Maybe that was Muller’s point – scary things can happen in ordinary places.
Perhaps it’s time to retire Sharon McCone to one of her getaway homes?
Quirkly and a bit interesting, but not much more.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
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Tagged as A Sharon McCone Mystery, action scenes, Coming Back, crime novel, disappearance, fiction, first person narrative, Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, hardcover, husband and wife, Hy Ripinsky, Joseph's Reviews, Locked In, locked-in syndrome, Marcia Muller, Muir Woods, mystery, mystery novel, New York Times bestselling author, nonrecommended books, northern California, Out of Time, paralysis, physical therapy, Private Investigator, quirky stories, Ruta Arellano, San Francisco, San Francisco Mystery, scary, the East Bay, The Rolling Stones, Walnut Creek