As I got into this book, I wondered why I don't read books like this more often. I got this book as a Goodreads giveaway advanced read copy and I admit it is (like the last one) not the kind of thing I would normally pick up to read. By the time I finished it, I was thinking to myself that sometimes it's good to explore different genres and authors.
I was telling my daughter last weekend about one of my favorite activities when I was growing up. We used to take inner tubes and get a ride up Logan Canyon to where the snow melt runoff was captured and carried down into valley for irrigation. The first half of the ride went at a fairly fast clip down the canyon, with some little dips and turns and fast-running water and waterfalls pouring down on us from above. By the time we got into town, it slowed down, got wider and more tame and then slowly meandered through the fields. For the most part, we preferred the first half of the ride and got out at the point where it started to slow down. But on some hot, summer days, when a large group of us had nothing better to do, it was fun to stay for the slow ride, floating past cow pastures and fields of crops and laughing and talking. This book is like the second half of the ride.
One reason I don't usually read books like this is because they move with what I call artistic languor. These are not fast-paced books full of red herrings and missing bodies or treasures. There's deep insight into the personality of the characters and what they're thinking and feeling but no real surprises. By the time this book got around to the big mystery, I'd already guessed it. I was expecting a worse outcome to Callie's postpartum depression, however. I was kind of glad this family didn't suffer another tragedy.
Like many of the books that fall into the category of not usually my type, I found myself wondering: Do men really think like this? I kind of wasn't getting the big attraction of Marcella. She's beautiful, she's Italian and therefore somewhat mysterious (I guess!) to American men – but I never understood what there was about her that would attract these three men who flutter around her like moths, men who feel they must have her at all costs. Let's be real: we've all had some burning sexual attraction to a member of the opposite sex. But did we fall in love with all of them? Want to spend the rest of our lives with them? My friends say I'm pragmatic; maybe I'm too pragmatic. I also have a certain disdain for women who make bad choices in men and excuse it by saying “I fell in love – I couldn't help it!” So chalk me up as someone who believes we do have a choice about falling in and out of love. Anthony is willing to at least consider murder to keep her. Cecil is willing to put his family life at risk to have her. And I'm not sure what to say about Jed, except how did he think it was going to end? After sex, there has to be something interesting enough about a person to retain the attraction and I just didn't see that with Marcella. I guess what I'm saying in my usual long-winded way is – I didn't find Marcella to be that compelling a character. But I'm willing to concede that it's probably just me.
What I did like about this book was how the author wrote the parallels between what happened in the past and what was happening in the present. I found it added to the interest of the entire situation going on between the characters. The characterizations are also very good (in spite of the fact that I don't get what makes Marcella so interesting to men). I also liked how the author used the swimming suit as a focal point for what happens after – and what happened before.
I found the book interesting and well written and I'd recommend to someone who likes these kinds of books. It has a beach read kind of feel to it, but I felt it delves deeper into the characters than most beach reads.