by Kirsten Tranter – A sensitive, nuanced look at various shades of love and friendship, this novel is set in Australia and in New York City, in the year before and one year after the 9/11 attacks. The timing is a key element in the story’s plot, but the story doesn’t feel exploitative of the pain engendered by that event. Rather, it draws from the narrative possibilities that a cataclysm can present to a writer… and to a character.
The characters are not all sympathetic or well-rounded, although I quite enjoyed Julia, the main character and narrator of the story. Indeed, some of them are quite unremarkable and could perhaps have been combined or eliminated. Still, the novel’s not overburdened with them, and there’s not a lot of subplot here.
One thing I learned: I need to pay better attention to the characters’ names, especially when I start a novel, so I am sure who is experiencing what, etc. I’d be embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to figure out that the woman in the prologue who is being bandaged up after a round of domestic violence is *not* the narrator of the rest of the book, so I won’t. Suffice it to say: embarrassingly long.
This is a very good book, and I recommend it highly. (finished 9/23/2012)