Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bedside Books

Yesterday, I posted a quotation from Islands by Ann Rivers Siddons whose books I have enjoyed over the years. And, for the most part Islands was no exception. I liked the characters, especially Anny and Lewis, whom the story and other characters revolve around, while she tells the intertwining stories of the "Scrubs", a group of childhood friends and their spouse now middle aged.

The story evolves in Charleston and the Low Country of South Carolina; all of the characters are quite well-heeled and have multiple homes. But the action takes place at a beach house. Some are physicians, surgeons, successful real estate brokers. And, then there is Anny who grew up impoverished, the daughter of an alcoholic mother, a scrappy young girl and woman who made a success of her life in the nonprofit world. The characters seemed believable; the story was compelling -- until the end.

The plot line wanders in and out and around the lives of these 4 couples and their quite enviable lives. Some of them have known one another for most of their lives. And then the unthinkable begins to happen (and for me the story begins to unravel) when first one spouse dies, then a house fire takes the life of another, and another spouse dies on his boat. Enough, you say. Yes, I agree. But clearly, the author didn't agree with that sentiment because she dragged the story line out to an unbelievable and, I think, illogical conclusion.

Here it is, in a nutshell: one of the eight-some, it turns out, is a psychopathic killer who has been orchestrating these horrible events. We are asked to believe that this character, who has been 'best friends' with most of the eight, is actually a crazed woman scorned and waiting decades for vengeance.

Well, I am not such a believer.

And I was really disappointed in this writer. And asked myself: how could she have stooped so low as to manipulate the story line and her readers in so obvious a ploy (no, not plot).

Disappointed all the more because Siddons has been compared to Faulkner and other important southern writers.

And, I ask myself: how would I have brought this story to a more natural and believable conclusion?

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