Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon
Published by: Bloomsbury USA - November 11, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
NOTICE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Stylish, suburban Katherine is eighteen when she is propelled into the heart of Professor Jacob Goldman’s rambling home and his large eccentric family. As his enchanting yet sharp-tongued wife, Jane, gives birth to her sixth child, Katherine meets beautiful, sulky Roger and his volatile younger brother, Jonathan. Inevitable heartbreak sends her fleeing to Rome, but ten years later, older and wiser, she returns to find the Goldmans again.
Thank goodness Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette, found this gem of a novel originally written in 1982! Maria has brought it back for American readers this time!
This book was full of quirk! I love me some quirky characters! When characters leap off the page and make themselves at home on the other end of my couch, I delight. I found myself likening these characters to those in another of my favorite novels, Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson. If you haven't read that beauty yet, please run and order it!
As I read this novel, the actor in me "watched" the action develop as if I was viewing a stage play. The Goldmans, Katherine and John Millet are the stuff of character actors. The entire novel is dialogue-driven, making it seem more like a beautiful play than a book. Now that I'm thinking about it, why HASN'T this been made into a play?? Perhaps I will have to be the one who does this. Hmmmm . . . I digress.
Katherine is a young, naive girl when she meets the charismatic John Millet, homosexual yet attracted to genderless-looking young females. He brings her for a weekend in the country with the Goldman family and her life is never the same.
I could do a run-down of character descriptions, but as I noted that this is a dialogue-driven novel, I'd be remiss if I didn't explain the characters to you in terms of some of their greatest lines.
Katherine: "I think that before he turned and walked away from me I said that I was sorry. In this life there are those that apologize and those that do not. I am a person who says sorry if a passer-by stands on my foot."
John on Roger: "Your Roger is too intense for me in any case. You've got yourselves a genuine little neurotic there between the two of you, haven't you?"
Katherine on Jonathan: "Like Mr. Knightely, he appears in doorways, knocking mud from his boots. As a card-carrying female masochist, I find both this, and his terrific cheek, quite essential to my sense of well being."
Jonathan to Katherine & Jane (his mother): "Go and buy some fucking apple trees, both of you."
Katherine on her mother: "On the floor, autumnal patterned Axminster carpet. Patterned, my mother said, because it wouldn't allow the dirt, but since our activities were restricted to those which would not create dirt, there was never any dirt to show."