Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey

The Last Book of Evelyn Aubrey
  The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey
Author:  Serena Burdick
Publication Information:  Park Row. 2022. 352 pages.
ISBN:  0778333108 / 978-0778333104

Rating:   ★★

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "This will go on forever, life and death, stretching out over the expansive body of water, chill and slick and seductive against my skin."

Favorite Quote:  "Those are the moments that make up a life. You choose what you look at and there is always something beautiful. That is your beginning. Notice the moments and you will find, that you are no longer waiting for your life to begin. You will find that you were there all along. That you had already arrived."

The book description tells you the story of this two time line book.

The Past:  Evelyn is a writer. She marries a writer. He suffers from writer's block. He steals her book and markets it as her own. Evelyn decides to find a way out.

The Present:  Abigail lost her mother at a young age and does not know who her father was. She finds a photograph that suggests that Evelyn Aubrey was her great-grandmother. She goes to Godstow, England to find the answers of the past.

The Conclusion:  Was Evelyn Aubrey murdered as London society believed? Or did she have "another plot up her sleeve?" Given that the information Abby finds states that she is descended from Evelyn Aubrey further clarifies the answer to this question.

The book description does a disservice to the book. The fact that the book description lays out the story and its eventual conclusion means that there is no surprise to the book. There is no mystery as to Evelyn's outcome, just the journey of how. The description would be more effective if the book then introduces a surprise or a twist that stems from the descriptions but adds an unexpected element. This book does not. It proceeds exactly as you might surmise from the description, leaving me as a reader unsatisfied.

In the story of the present, Abby is a challenging character to invest in. She is thirty one years old and able to walk out on a job. "In her head she had good reasons for doing things, but as soon as she started explaining herself, they didn't seem logical anymore. She was uncommitted, bad at making decision, bad at her jobs, at her relationships." She lives with her grandparents and yet walks out on them to begin this search. "Not telling them where she was going was a heartless thing to do, but she wasn't going to risk being reasoned with." Yet, somehow, in this search, things seem to go her way from the ability to drop everything and fly to England to instant invitations to stays in people's homes.

Evelyn's story begins as a surprise. Evelyn walks out on an engagement based on a whirlwind romance with William Aubrey. Her parents agree to Evelyn's marriage to William and endow them with property. William's betrayal, his theft of her work, and society's acceptance that the work had to be his follow the social paradigms of the time. For the historical relevance, for the journey of an author, and for the struggles of a woman asserting her rights, Evelyn's story is the more interesting one of the two timelines. However, as I seem to know the ending before I begins, it loses something. I wish there had been a surprise.

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

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