Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Review: Reading this book felt a little like watching a silent movie: some jerky, indistinct action, interspersed with text that's supposed to illuminate the dialogue you can't hear, but doesn't necessarily help bring the story into focus.
The story begins as Eva's mother takes her to her father's house for the first time, where she meets her half-sister Iris, and is in for some nasty surprises about her father. Eva and Iris escape to Hollywood, where Iris has some initial success in becoming a starlet, before she is black-balled by the industry. Beginning to widen the cast of characters, Eva and Iris move to New York where the bulk of the action takes place. But why do people choose to go with them? Why do others join the little group in New York? Explanation of motivation is sorely lacking in the narrative. Instead, we are asked to accept, for example, that someone with a long and successful career as a make-up artist in Hollywood would just give that up to join two girls he hardly knows on a cross-country trip. Ok, yes, he felt about what happened to Iris, but I'm sorry, I just don't buy it.
I also felt like the narrative followed the wrong character. Eva just isn't very interesting. I'm not sure that I would have found Iris to be all that more compelling, as she comes across as shallow and self-involved, but at least she has agency in her own life. Eva just sort of drifts along, and seems to almost willfully not understand what's going on around her.
And yet, by the end of the book, I understood where the title came from, and what Bloom was trying to do. It was a satisfying ending, if not a satisfying beginning or middle.
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.