RATING: 3.5 STARS
The Gossips highlights the hypocritical, self-righteous small town mindset behind the polite facade of a close community. The Gossips is a perceptive and engaging look at small town life, where the main source of entertainment is gossip, which rotates between bribery, real or imagined affairs, drunks, rape, incest, and (clutching my pearls!) the embarrassment of unwed mothers. Initially, the story line and vivid character descriptions drew me in…until half way through, I couldn’t wait until the book was over. Waugh describes gossipy, nosy people in such an accurate way, she exhausted me. Waugh’s writing is excellent, but it wasn’t enjoyable to read about gossipy small town folks. I’d read another one of her books, but only if the story line is more pleasant.
A copy of the book was provided to me from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
TINY LITTLE THING BY BEATRIZ WILLIAMS
RATING: 5/5 STARS
Jackie Kennedy fans, this one’s for you. A historical novel set in 1960’s New England’s elite world of political families, the main character Tiny Hardcastle navigates her pristine world through a maze of blackmail, secrets and affairs.
The point of view alternates between socialite Tiny Hardcastle, and Frank’s cousin Caspian, a Vietnam war hero who is the only man privy to Tiny’s inner life. As Tiny tries to maintain her high society Hardcastle façade, someone is trying to blackmail her with damning photos from her past, while she suspects her husband Frank, has secrets from his college days. If the secrets become public, it will undo the couple’s perfect power couple façade, ruining Frank’s chances for obtaining a Senate seat.
I enjoyed this character driven novel, especially Tiny, who develops so much inner strength and growth. Diaz seamlessly includes what is associated with the Upper Crust – a large beach front family compound, weekly deliveries of out of season flowers, Lily Pulitzer dresses, constant cocktail parties and a forgotten 1930’s Mercedes-Benz sitting in a shed. I highly recommend Tiny Little Thing. Beatriz Diaz has a gift for intriguing and refreshing storytelling. Tiny Little Thing is an enjoyable romance novel with elements of suspense and drama.
An ARC was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
RATING: 2 STARS
Hausfrau begins with Anna Benz, a thirty-seven year old bored American expat housewife living in Switzerland, has a passionate affair with an American man, while her Swiss husband works as a banker at Credit Suisse. A series of meaningless affairs continue after her lover abandons her and returns to the United States. Anna has everything materially, yet she’s emotionally unfulfilled.
Essbaum is a skilled writer, yet Hausfrau read like a 19th century narrative trope in a modern setting. Anna is weak and feeble, paralysed to move forward and unable to overcome her fears. I couldn’t connect with her emotionally because I didn’t have a reason to care about her.
After living in Switzerland for nine years, Anna doesn’t make any attempt to assimilate into Swiss life. She doesn’t drive, she speaks a bare minimum of German and Schwiizerdütsch (Swiss-German) and she’s unable to deal with the most basic of bureaucratic paperwork – her own residency permit. All of the family’s house related issues are managed by her husband. She’s as helpless as a Victorian housewife. During one her psychoanalysis sessions, she has an awakening when her Dr. explains her reluctance to learn German is actually a reflection of her inability to assimilate into the Swiss culture. Despite this realization, she remains frozen in fear without making any changes in her life.
I pushed to get through to the end of the novel, hoping it would get better, but it continued to drag on. The ending was predictable and anti-climatic.
* A copy of the book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**