Monday, June 20, 2016


Title:  Siracusa
Author:  Delia Ephron
Publication Information:  Blue Rider Press. 2016. 304 pages.
ISBN:  0399165215 / 978-0399165214

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I have a snapshot of me standing on Finn's shoulders when I was twenty-nine, a trick we'd perfected."

Favorite Quote:  "Nothing is unforgivable ... It depends on your capacity for forgiveness."

This is a book of two marriages, one mistress, and one little girl. Michael and Lizzie. Finn and Taylor. Two couples.

These are marriages crumbling except that no one has acknowledged it yet. These are marriages full of lies and deceit, but, for the most part, that too is unspoken and beneath the surface. One person is having an affair. Two of the people are emotionally entangled and still drawn to each other. Two are parents. All are well to do, being able to afford a vacation in Italy. However, why in the world they ever go on vacation together is beyond me. All are also dissatisfied and petulant. All are on the beautiful Italian shore; yet, what comes across is a drab, dreary environment. The hotel is not good enough. The place is not good enough. The guide is not enough. You get the picture. Nothing is good enough.

The book is written in alternating chapters from the perspectives of these four individuals. It often tells the different perspectives of the same set of events. This results in these characters being relatively well developed. They are not likable, not a single one, but the book does create a full image of their feelings and motivations, trough their own eyes and through the opinions of the other three. One's career may go the way of the one hit wonder. One needs constant reassurance. One is trying to save her marriage. Two are trying to see if parenthood can cover the cracks in the marriage and if the child takes priority over the marriage. All see what they choose to see and cover up the lies necessary to suit their vision of reality.

Then, you have ten year old Snow. She is the daughter of one of the couple. She is the least developed and most mysterious of the characters, but, as the only child in this adult world, she is also at the center of the story. According to the parents, she has been diagnosed with extreme shyness syndrome. Who knew that is even a thing? Her mother wants to wrap her in bubble wrap and mold her in her own image. The mother's descriptions of Snow often sound like they are describing a toddler not a pre-teen. Her father feels detached from her but thinks she may have his spark. Snow is a child by age, but is she really?

The plot revolves around relationships and affections that develop where they should not and a mistress who shows up where she should not. The first half of the book is really about developing the characters and the situation. Then, the mystery and the "action" hits building to a dramatic, if somewhat predictable, conclusion.

The characters are not likable. The entire scenario is not entirely believable. However, the writing is such that it keeps me reading and engaged even as I want to look away. Reading this book is like passing by the scene of a crash scene. You know things are going to be bad. You don't really want to see. Yet, you can't help but look.

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

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