I first heard about this book nearly a year ago over at Farm Lane Books and quickly added it to my TBR. After completing Love in the Time of Cholera I wanted something a little more fast paced and turned to this. It did the trick. I read it fairly quickly and it even kept me up fast my bedtime once. The structure of the novel was unique and I enjoyed how the plot unraveled. However, at times it felt like the mystery element of the plot fell on the back burner to Octavia's nostalgia for her past and her coping with a family tragedy, which worked out fine for the novel as a whole but since I picked it up hoping to read a mystery, I was a little let down. Aside from the suspenseful plot, Octavia's meditations on writing and fiction itself were among my favorite parts.
I've always known that the best part of writing occurs before you've picked up a pen. When a story exists only in your mind, its potential is infinite; it's only when you start pinning words to paper that it becomes less than perfect. You have to make your choices, set your limits. Start whittling away at the cosmos, and don't stop until you've narrowed it down to a single, ordinary speck of dirt. And in the end, what you've made is not nearly as glorious as what you've thrown away.In addition to themes of fiction and writing, the novel explores the bond between mother and son and the idea that we may not really know those who we trust. I did feel like the narrator was a little too whiny at times, which took away from my interest in the plot and my interest in her troubles. I also would have liked to see a greater parallel between Octavia's excerpts from her own novel, the book within the book, to the actual novel itself. Other than those gripes, the novel as a whole worked. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, quick read.
Publisher: Anchor, 2010