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Archive for the ‘Sarah Addison Allen’ Category

While I was having the rather unpleasant experience of reading The Girl Who Chased the Moon, my friend was enjoying one of Sarah Addison Allen’s earlier books, The Sugar Queen.  She enjoyed it so much that, immediately after finishing, she passed her copy on to me, urging me to give Allen another try, which I did and thank goodness, as it redeemed Allen and I will no longer have to think badly of her (and I do dislike thinking badly of others).  The Sugar Queen was light and frothy but it had characters who were actually interesting (unlike the one-dimensional characters in The Girl Who Chased the Moon) and I found the magical elements enchanting rather than grating.

When my friend first mentioned The Sugar Queen, she mentioned that one of the characters reminded her of me.  The character, Chloe, is, to use my friend’s phrase, “haunted by books.”  They appear from out of no where, follow her around, and the titles are selected to get her through whatever crisis she is currently facing, giving her advice she’s not necessarily willing to take.  Of all the compliments I’ve ever been paid, being compared to Chloe and her magical books might be my favourite.  If I ever have to pick a magical power, I’m all set now.

On the other hand, I might like the compliment all the more because my friend passed over Josey, another main character, with whom I share more personality traits than I might like.  Overweight Josey, holed up with her aging mother, held there by guilt, secretly eating junk food in the safety of her bedroom closet, desperately in love with the mailman Adam who barely notices her, afraid to take any risks.  And yet, at heart, she’s a sociable, adventurous woman, though it takes a ghost to help her discover that.  I’m far more outgoing than Josey but the fear in her, the terror of rejection or failure and the twisting of that fear into a rationale for not living her life, struck a little too close to home, especially as far as relationships go.  I can sort out every other aspect of my life, but that bit still eludes me.

Side note: you know you’ve been reading too many cook books when you go to type aspect and you find that you’ve written out ‘aspic.’  My mind has turned to jelly (yes, bad joke, but I couldn’t resist – it’s been a long week).

And, because I collect these, here’s a lovely quote about books, taken from a conversation between Chloe and the owner of her dream house (complete with a dream library):

Books can be possessive, can’t they?  You’re walking around in a bookstore and a certain one will jump out at you, like it had moved there on its own, just to get your attention.  Sometimes what’s inside will change your life, but sometimes you don’t even have to read it.  Sometimes it’s a comfort just to have a book around.  Many of these books haven’t even had their spines cracked.  ‘Why do you buy books you don’t even read?’ our daughter asks us.  That’s like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat.  For company, of course. (p. 180)

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The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen has had some very positive reviews and, looking for another book for the Once Upon a Time challenge, I thought ‘why not’?  Allen seems to be a favourite with many other bloggers and the premise seemed intriguing enough:

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

I was never very excited about reading this and, once I got started, the excitement certainly didn’t build.  It was one of those books that I didn’t find offensive or awful, just plain boring.  I stuck with it until the end (it’s a very quick read), hoping that I might be missing something, but my perseverance was for naught.  There was really no suspense or build up so when the climax came it had little to no impact on me, aside from being a sign that I was closer to the end (a cause for celebration). 

Strangely enough, one of my close friends has been reading The Sugar Queen week, which she’s had much better luck with than I did with this.  Since we usually have very similar tastes (last week we read The Imperfectionists at the same time, also unplanned) I might be willing to give Allen another try.

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