I've had writer's block since late last week. I'm not sure why, but I'm having trouble sitting down and composing what is on my mind into coherent sentences. It could be because I have an extra busy week and a traveling husband. It could be stress from worrying about my job where there were more layoffs yesterday and more 'cost saving measures' implemented. In any case, I am today, forcing myself to sit down and properly write about something and that something is Laura Lippman's latest novel, Life Sentences.
Cassandra Fallows has written two successful books - memoirs - and one not-so-successful novel. Life has brought her back to her hometown of Baltimore where she hopes to research a more personal story to write about. Cassandra is reminded of the life story of a school acquaintance from years past. Calliope was always a quiet girl but her life became news after her infant son disappeared and she refused to discuss his whereabouts. Cassandra contacts old friends, some of whom are happier to see her than others. You see, Cassandra's books are a touchy subject for some of them, who feel her version of events are not exactly or in same cases, even close to the truth. As Cassandra find herself getting closer to the truth, she discovers things about her friends she wasn't expecting, but more surprising, she discovers things about herself.
This is the first time I've read Lippman's work and apparently she is best known as a writer of mysteries. This is much more of a standard literary novel, despite Cassandra's search for answers. In fact, by the time we discover what really happened with Calliope it's rather anti-climactic. What is more interesting in this book are the themes of self-discovery and of realizing that how one person perceives an event can be completely different that another persons. One point I need to make and am finding it hard to, is that Cassandra's friends from school are all black and she is white. Cassandra doesn't see this as being a big difference, but her friends in some cases do, and they resent that Cassandra has seemed to never quite comprehend their point of view.
The novel was at times difficult to follow, written in third person the reader gets the perspective of many different characters. I found it hard to keep track of who was who at times and had to look back. Interspersed in the book are chapters from Cassandra's memoir, which explained a lot of the back story. I thought this was a good addition to the narrative, though I did wonder why the book (the memoir) would have been such a best seller! Overall, I enjoyed this book and would consider reading Lippman's work again in the future.
Many thanks to Harper Collins/William Morrow for providing this book for review.
Again, I want to thank everyone who stopped by during the read-a-thon! In the coming days or weeks I plan to properly visit all of you and check out all the new-to-me blogs out there.