Saturday, October 9, 2010

book review: The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson

The Stuff That Never Happened: A Novel
The basics: The Stuff That Never Happened is the story of Annabelle and Grant, who have been married for over thirty years. They live in New Hampshire, where Grant is a professor and Annabelle illustrates children's books.

My thoughts: The novel starts off well. I adored the first chapter; it was smart, funny and a good introduction to the character. I really enjoyed Annabelle. Then the novel begins flipping back and forth between 2005, when Anabelle and Grant's marriage is floundering with their children now grown, and 1977, when they met. Initially, this alternation helps build suspense and provide an interesting take on the characters. I'm fascinated by tales of marriage, and its shifts over time (I am a newlywed, afterall!) As the novel progresses, however, it starts to fall flat because it becomes more obvious what must happen. The past chapters became dull, as it was clear the action was leading to something. The present chapters started to seem almost dishonest, as Annabelle was clearly hiding part of her past from the reader. The characters begin to fall flat as suspense evaporated.

The verdict: While I really enjoyed the first half of the novel, it didn't work as a whole for me. Dawson writes conversation quite well, and it is a fast read. I imagine fans of women's fiction will enjoy this thoughtful, but uneven, take on a modern marriage.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Length: 336 pages
Publication date: August 3, 2010
Source:  received from the publisher for review via Book Browse First Impressions

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  1. Aww...too bad it fell apart. Those kind of flip back and forth books can be hard to pull off ... it requires a bit of a balancing act.

  2. I enjoyed this one more than you did, I'm sorry it didn't work as well for you!


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