Reading along contentedly. Enjoying this good novel. Appreciating the author’s skillful styling, the easy flow and authenticity. Assuming, not having noticed, that it was written by a woman. Finished it with a sigh of satisfaction and moved on to “About the Author”. Nick Alexander. Can anyone tell me why I am always astounded when a man does women characters so well? Every time. Gets me every time. It can be done, I know it can be done, I’ve seen it done, and still it gets me every time. Over and over.
To my knowledge I’d never heard of Nick Alexander, but he’s good and evidently enjoying some success: The Other Son, The Photographer’s Wife, The Half-Life of Hannah. Ring any bells with you, readers? Merits checking out, I think. Geez, I know I live in the woods, but other stuff gets through. Why not Nick Alexander?
All right, the book under consideration, The Bottle of Tears: Two embattled sisters with shrouded memories of a calamitous past, and a mother who compounds it all by pitting them against each other. I mean, Mum just can’t stop stirring it. On the surface, the families of these two manage to look pretty much like everyone else – loving, active, normal, happy. Not so. Older sis Victoria is OCD and addicted to Valium. She also has buckets of money because she’s married to a successful lawyer. Little sis Penny is a hard-working social psychologist married to a pothead who was formerly a successful artist. They have a lovely home by the sea and no money.
Well, I know. Put like that I know just what it sounds like. Soap operas and book clubs. Of course, as “they” say, there are only so many stories to be told. It’s good writing that makes the difference, and right here is where Mr. Alexander comes in – taking this sorry-sounding, sordid set of scenarios, letting some light in, fluffing it up, tossing, nipping, tucking, polishing up the whole shebang, turning on some music, and there you go. No longer same old, same old. Takes talent, and I hope Mr. Alexander enjoys writing because he makes it look so easy. As if he just breathed the story onto the pages.
Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by Amazon Publishing UK / Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley. I would like to thank the publisher and the author for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed herein are my own.