For 2013, my goal was to read one fiction and one non-fiction book each month. For January, I met my goal for one fiction book; however, I am still reading my non-fiction book so will have to write a review of that one later in the month.
I did not intentionally plan to read both my fiction and non-fiction books by the same author, but it just happened. Both of them are by Mary DeMuth, a blogger that I follow. For my fiction read of the month, I read her first novel, The Quarryman’s Wife. For my non-fiction choice, I read her newest submission Everything.
I started The Quarryman’s Wife sometime in the fall. At that time, it didn’t keep my attention. After Christmas, when I was trying to find something to read, I ran across this book on my e-reader and decided to give it another try. This is a memoir based on DeMuth’s great-grandmother. Just like the main character, Augusta, DeMuth’s great-grandmother lost her husband and had to raise her children as a widow.
The time-frame for the novel is the depression. The setting is Ohio. However, I found myself losing track of where the family lived and what time period we were in. Now, that might be a good thing, making the novel universal. But, I found it to be distracting as I was constantly trying to remember when and where the characters were placed.
I, also, had a hard time being sympathetic to Augusta. I don’t think DeMuth expressed her grief well enough for me to empathize. I also had a hard time remembering the six children and their birth order. I did like the youngest son John-John. His character seemed to be the most fleshed out. I was also taken with the secondary character of Olya who was from the Ukraine and wanted to get her family here to the United States. I found myself wanting to know more about Olya and her husband (who was hurt in the same quarry accident which killed Augusta’s husband) and hoping her family could come to the U.S.
The novel was a little long for me. I felt like things could have been wrapped up sooner and that all of the side stories with each of the children caused some disconnect with the main story, which was how Augusta was dealing with her grief and trying to raise six children on her own. As I said before, I didn’t find much empathy with her maybe because her story just didn’t seem to be emphasized enough for being the main character.
DeMuth, herself, says on her web site, that she probably won’t write an historical fiction novel again. She has several other novels she has written since The Quarryman’s Wife. I don’t know if I’ll try them or not.
I am enjoying Everything, my non-fiction read and also by DeMuth, so maybe that is her strength.
For February’s fiction book, I am reading Better Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts. Check back at the beginning of March to see how I like that one (so far, better than The Quarryman’s Wife).
Those are my thoughts for today.