Tuesday, 19 May 2009

In The Midnight Rain by Ruth Wind

Let's cut to the quick in true spoiler style. This story is about a woman in her late 20's finding out she has a dual heritage. I decided to accept that as it is written. So yes. We are in supposed worthy literature land. And in this place an author has to be quite careful imo. At the same time I'm not a reader who absorbs all the teeny tiny details in a novel...it's the general impression that I'm often left with.

So let's go. This novel manages to reference Gerard Butler (written before he gained '300' mega-stardom despite the fact that he has appeared in so much appalling cack both before and since), Tupac...and gob-smackingly astoundingly some character called 'Sambo' (a true wtf moment seeing how's I personally have never ever come across him in any fiction book in my whole life...other than when reading scathing tracts about life pre-MLK cornerstone speech...and I'm not too happy that I read it in this story either.) all in the space of a couple of pages towards the middle of the story. So on that level the book fails for me. Then later on there's this conversation that includes the words 'watermelon' and 'fried chicken' in the space of half a page. I didn't appreciate that either. I'd love to know the intended audience for this book.

The story just sags interminably for the middle half. The hero Blue is just too happy being maudlin and more importantly is basically irrelevant for much of the plot. Although I liked the detail about pets, music, orchids, it too is completely irrelevant to anything. Too much time is spent on repeatedly detailing Ellie's 'plainness' when actually her looks are also irrelevant to the successful life she leads. (Although with hindsight I think the author was trying to give the reader clues as to the outcome of Ellie's personal search.) What is the point of writing a love story where the heroine tells the hero that if he doesn't want to be with her she will keep an eye out for someone who does? Is that anything other than a notch on the bedpost of life?

Mabel gave up her baby son to the mother of the lover she shot dead. That would make sense if the lover had been some kind of upstanding citizen...but he was a total dog. Did she want her son to turn out the same way? And she gave up her music too!!! Fine. But then she continues living in the same small town under a different name! Childless and unmarried for 30-years. Without being bitter? I didn't get that either. Of course her story is potentially 100-times more interesting than that of serial lover Ellie. Also unfortunately I tend to totally loathe 'I'm having your baby and I can raise the child on my own' story-lines or even 'I'm having your baby and I'll run away so you can chase me' story-lines. The former is selfish, the latter is a form of bullying..neither are appropriate to a romance. And why did Blue go after Ellie...Marcus told him to and drove him there. So even as a romance this novel just died for me.

There is a lot of emotion in the novel but it's based too much around Ellie's particular issues about her previous love-life. A few conversations with Blue might have helped her and helped the reader see more of the relationship between the two of them.

And watching Ellie cast around for potential candidates to be her father turned out to be almost as boring as the never-ending cyphers featured in the Da Vinci Code. Just too many appetizers not enough real plot.

I could never recommend the Dave Brandstetter books by Joseph Hansen because although they are well-written many of the ethnic characters are basically kind stereotypes. And this novel is quite similar to that.

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