After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson’s disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man—or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.
Overall Impression: This man really loves the sound of his own voice.
Recommended for: Literary fiction fans who don’t mind getting bogged down by too much information and pages upon pages describing a poop dream.
I while ago, I wrote a post about how this book was taking me so long to read and how I didn’t know if I loved it or hated it. I now know that I hated it. I actually ended up not finishing it. It started out with a lot of promise, and admittedly, there were moments of brilliance which is why my score isn’t a 1/10. However, those moments were overshadowed by long stretches of very boring material that I felt did nothing for the characters. This lead me to not care either way about what happened to them, which is never a good sign when reading a book. I could get through a pretty bad book if I spent the whole time wanting something terrible to happen to the characters, but in this instance, if you asked how I felt about a particular character, I would shrug and say “eh”. And this is a major deal breaker for me. I care too much about characters to read an entire book about ones I don’t feel anything for.
I became so simultaneously annoyed and bored at one point that I just couldn’t read on. What annoyed/bored me so much that I actually quit reading a book? Well, I just couldn’t read one more page about characters that just don’t matter. There are many times when you get the entire life story of some character who is not one of the main ones. And this will happen in large ten page chunks! This also happens with people that you meet once, maybe twice, in the book and you will get like five pages of exposition about their lives. It was too much and started feeling like it was just a way for him to fill more pages. “Why do I need to know this?!” was a common utterance of mine while I was reading this book. Maybe it did become important later, but I didn’t care enough to find out.
But like I said above, there were some brilliant moments in the first part of the book that I read. (I almost got halfway through.) These moments are what kept me reading it for so long, however. they started coming less and less often as the book continued. Sadly, there wasn’t enough brilliance for me to go on. Too much superfluous information. Too much exposition. Too much talk about poop. Basically, the book was just too much.