30 Sep 2014

ALYS, ALWAYS.

ALYS, ALWAYS by HARRIET LANE.

SOURCE: A Readers Group Read.

THE BOOK {According to the inner front cover}: It's a bleak midwinter evening (the sort of Sunday night you almost expect something bad to happen) when Frances comes across the scene of a crash. Alone in the dark forest with the injured driver, Alys Kyte, Frances offers company and reassurances as they wait for the emergency services. Then, trying to put the distressing episode behind her, she returns to her rather colourless life in London. Frances is a subeditor on the books pages of a newspaper: quiet, capable and largely ignored.

When Aly's family makes contact, a door opens into a world previously out of reach, a world of privilege and possibility. As her life becomes increasingly entwined with that of the Kytes, Frances begins to wonder: might she now become a player in her own right?

FIRST SENTENCE {Page 1}: It's shortly after 6 o'clock on a Sunday evening.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 46}: Of course, these visits are always an ordeal for my mother, who applies herself strenuously to the task of appearing easy and relaxed in what is essentially enemy territory.

MY THOUGHTS: Compulsive reading according to the Spectator.

As a reader who has to finish the book no matter what to begin with, I admit that I did find myself compulsively reading this debut novel but only in the hope that something (indeed ANYTHING) of note would eventually happen. That, given the huge build-up, there would be some earth-shattering climax that would make up for enduring what I felt was a monotonous story.

As for Frances being a fascinating creation? A totally unoriginal character. Her story, that of a unremarkable young women turned unremarkable schemer intent on taking advantage of the situation in which she finds herself, predictable and as old as time itself. 

Perhaps a novel I wouldn't have found quite so disappointing if it wasn't for all the unrealistically glowing endorsements littering the cover. 

Having read the book the only thing I can say I took away with me was the niggling worry that whilst hardly commendable I didn't find Frances' actions nearly as dark or psychologically disquieting as I felt I should.


15 comments:

Jane Hanbury said...

This was one of book group reads for the summer and it received mixed reviews with us. We all thought it was a mere okay. Overrated? I thought so.

Tracy Terry said...

Hi Jane, Nice to meet you. It's my Readers Group next week and I can't wait to see what the others thought of it.

Kelly said...

I just hate it when a book doesn't live up to its hype...or even worse, when I wonder if I just "didn't get it".

I'm sorry this one fell short for you.

Suko said...

Tracy, I'm sorry this was such a disappointment to you. Hopefully, the next book will make up for it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

So sorry this didn't work for you. Sometimes you can't really believe blurbs...

Aunt Mary said...

Hi Tracy, hope you are doing great.
Thank you for your honest review. Hope you will find a great book next time :)

Brian Joseph said...

I tend to dislike cliched situations in books unless an author puts an original twist on them. Originality seems so important to me.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I'm doing that right now with a tv show. I keep watching it expecting it to do something! LOL! At least you were trying to be optimistic until the end. :)

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I hadn't heard of this one- though the cover does look interesting. I absolutely loved your last paragraph. :)

Stephanie Faris said...

It always annoys me to read a book that has been heavily endorsed or received a lot of attention, only to find it doesn't live up to all the hoopla.

Bo said...

Well, this sounds disappointing and one I will have to miss. Kudos to you for always finishing your books, though. If I have a difficult time getting into a book, I can rarely see it through to the end.

Claudine G. said...

Ah shucks, the protagonist-type does sound familiar. Too bad, the cover is real pretty, though ...

Barbara Fisher said...

I had already added this to my ‘must find and read at any cost’ list before arriving at your conclusion. Hah, I now have a big black line on through the title thank you for saving me the trouble of feeling the disappointment. Off to read more of your fabulous reviews, forgive me if I don’t comment on them all, but rest assured I do read and thoroughly enjoy them. Have a super weekend, Barbara x

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

Whilst the overall rating for this book isn't too bad, the actual individual ratings are either very very good, or very very bad, no middle ground at all, which really surprised me.

If the story is as dull and boring as you imply, the fact that Frances works as a book subeditor, isn't a very good recommendation, is it?

The storyline itself sounds great and just right for some intrigue and subterfuge, but if it fell that flat, then I am not surprised at your disappointment.

Thanks as always for the honest appraisal and I hope that your next choice is a more successful one.

Enjoy your shindig this weekend and catch up next week.

Yvonne

Literary Feline said...

How disappointing!