Friday, February 20, 2015

A Small Indiscretion

Title:  A Small Indiscretion
Author:  Jan Ellison
Publication Information:  Random House. 2015. 336 pages.
ISBN:  0812995449 / 978-0812995442

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "London, the year I turned twenty."

Favorite Quote:  "I suppose unrequited love is the hardest kind to shed because it is not really love at all. It is a half-love, and we are forever stomping around trying to get hold of the other half."

An indiscretion is defined as "lack of good judgment or care in behavior." Many times in her life, Annie Black exhibits a lack of good judgement, and the indiscretions are not small. The story covers three discrete time periods. The earliest in the chronology is the time Annie spends in London when she is twenty years old and single. The second is a recent trip to London; Annie goes alone, leaving her husband and children home. The final period is the time surrounding an accident, which leaves her son Robbie fighting for her life.

Annie's youth in the London is a time of parties, affairs, and an education in life choices. Annie's recent trip to London is triggered by a photograph that brings that past back and leads to indiscretions, betrayals, and, possibly, destruction of her twenty-year long marriage to Jonathon. Robbie's accident becomes the trigger that brings the present full circle back to the past.

This book does not work for me for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the structure. The book jumps between the various time periods, sometimes with no warning or transition. It makes the story somewhat confusing to follow.

Second is the narrator. This story is about Annie Black and told through her eyes. Much of it is told as if being narrated to her son. Warranted, her son is not listening, but still, some details and actions described would not occur naturally between a mother and son, at least not for me. Also, the narration style creates a picture of Annie that is selfish, self-centered, and not likable.

Third is the fact that one major character is never made real. Robbie is central to the story of this book. Yet, he does not really appear in the book except by reference. Even Annie and Jonathon's daughters, who are not really crucial to the story line, appear more often and have a bigger role in the book.

Third is the incorporation of Emme, with her name pronounced "like the letter." The entire portion of the story centered around her seems contrived and forced. It also seems unnecessary to the story. Yes, there is a connection. Yes, it is finally revealed. However, the story of a betrayal within a family and a marriage does not really need that additional element. That story space would be better spent developing the family relationships and the emotions of Annie, Jonathon, and Robbie, the three main characters caught up in the repercussions of this indiscretion.

Fourth, the story itself does not really go anywhere. I expected a climax of some sorts or closure. The supposed big reveal is not really a surprise by the end. So, at the end, I am left with the reaction, "That's it?" The story ends, as it begins, with Annie's perspective. I want to know what Jonathon felt and how he found his way through. I want to know what Robbie thought.

The concept of the book holds promise. The cover art is mysterious. Unfortunately, the structure and narration of the book leave me wanting something different.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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