Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Light of the Moon; Luanne Rice

Dunno where to start with this one. I don't think I've been more disappointed with a new to me author in a long long time. First impressions are crucial & mine is pretty low..so I don't know if I'm even willing to try another book by her. I finished this a while ago I've been so reluctant to put it all in writing.

Susannah Connolly (Mary Sue extraordinaire), professor at a small Connecticut college, has decided to take a short sabbatical after the death of her mother. She travels to a rural section of France that was very important to her parents. While there she meets Grey Dempsey out on the marsh in what could have been a near fatal encounter with wild bulls. Over the next few weeks Susannah becomes increasingly attracted to Grey and makes friendly overtures to his young daughter Sari, who suffers with the aftereffects of a serious closed head injury. Susannah's pushy ex boyfriend makes an appearance as well.

Grey, an American who runs a horseback tour ranch, and his daughter, who is half Roma/French and half American, have an uneasy, prickly relationship partly due to her injuries and partly due to the fact that her injury directly stems from her mother's flight from the family household with her lover. Grey used to be a relatively well established journalist whose dreams of running an equine based business with his wife have all evaporated. Sari's best friend Laurent seems to know better than Grey does, when and how far to push Sari, when to back off. Then there's the Roma community, and Sari's mother and her lover.

Now, on the face of all that it should have been relatively easy to like this book. There are too many coincidences and cliches and things left unexplored in this book. Too many plot threads that got wrapped up in pretty pink bows. The time line was too short, for one. Less than three months, if I totted it up properly. Three months for so many miracles to happen to Grey, Susannah, Sari & her mother. It was ridiculous.

The problems:

1. Susannah travels to rural France, but miraculously falls in love with an American whose parents live in Rhode Island. Which is a little too convenient for me. No language or cultural conflicts. Of all the fifty states, he's from Little Rhody? which is right next door to Connecticut. Yeah ok. Very convenient for the bicontinental relationship we can see coming at the end of the book.

2. Grey has lived in France full time at least since his marriage, roughly ten years ago. However, he speaks English at home with his daughter. Pardonnez moi?? You don't even speak French at home with your French born child? Not to mention her Roma cultural heritage, which I believe includes their own language. But no. He's American so they speak English.

3. After Susannah and Grey and Sari make peace and try to become friends a little bit, miraculously Sari begins to heal from her mental and physical scars. Naturally, there had been little to no improvement in the previous five years. Until Grey and Susannah show signs of becoming friends. Nothing like a little female rivalry to get the healing flowing. HA! >:(

4. The whole entire storyline involving the mother, her lover, & their Las Vegas equine revue. I can't say too much without revealing the plot, but Jeez. Really. There have been several too many coincidences & "wow it's a small world after all" moments. The explication and sudden healing of all actual, physical and metaphysical rifts between all involved parties is just too much. Really.

5. There is no discussion of the reality of the life the Roma actually live in Europe- which is degrading, painful, squalid and full of what most Americans would identify in our own country as pre Civil Rights attitudes and issues and living conditions.

One or two of these, properly done, would have been more than enough for one single book. All five of them in one single volume? Not gonna fly. At least, not with this reader. Every single plot thread is wrapped up with its own resolution and neat pink bow, although Sari's needs aren't totally solved it's made plain that she's well on her way to total health.

Light of the Moon was published in 2008 in hardcover, and is currently out in mass market. It's published by Bantam. Luanne Rice is a prolific author with a huge backlist. It seems that most of her works could be categorized as women's fiction with strong romantic overtones. Link to her backlist is in the title above.


Kailana said...

Okay, so I was planning to read this one and now I am not going to... I have to say... I have read several of Rice's backlist and while I will never be a huge fan, she is good for a nice, quick read. If you wanted to read her again, maybe try Summer Girls... if you don't like that one, than I would say she is not for you! That being said, I haven't read anything by her in a few years now!

Bookwormom said...

Kailana~ My reaction really surprised me, actually. I fully expected to like this book. I mean, duh- none of us buys/borrows a book expecting to dislike it. Right? Anyhow, thanks for the other title suggestion, I'll keep that one in mind.