I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad). The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.
I was halfway through this book before I realised I wasn't reading the book I thought I was. I believed I was reading The Four Last Things and so I reviewed what I was reading with the expectation that the plotline of The Four Last Things would eventually appear. I made comments asking where the characters mentioned in the description for The Four Last Things were, comments that I now know were unfair to this book - obviously those expected characters and storylines weren't going to appear in this book - so I've deleted what I had previously written and will write a new review to reflect my revised thoughts on the book.
27/9 - I was going to start this book all over again so I could give my thoughts as they came to me as I was reading, and so treat this reading the same as any other reading. I wanted to try to ignore what I'd thought of the story, if not the characters (I don't think my opinion of David is going to change with a re-read), when I first read it, because those opinions weren't entirely fair - I would imagine most of my confusion regarding what was going on would be solved by my reading of the first book in the series.
Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. I have until 10:47 tonight to finish it, which would be fine except for one thing - I'm going out for my birthday dinner with my friends tonight, and while I may be back before the deadline I don't think it'll be hours before so I'm going to have do some express reading this afternoon, before I leave for the train, and express reading doesn't leave time for re-reading half a book just so I can see it through new eyes.
If this were a physical book I'd just hang onto it for an extra day and pay the fine, but this is an eBook and my library has a ridiculous policy of six day loans for eBooks and no ability to re-borrow. Why do I get three weeks and the ability to re-borrow twice, in some cases giving me the book for up to nine weeks, with physical books, but only six days for an eBook? I just can't understand why they think an eBook can be read any faster than a physical one. Another reason for me to stay away from eBooks and something for my library to consider because they have been systematically replacing their physical books with eBook copies over the last few years. If they want their customers to use the eBook facilities they need to make them more user-friendly than they are now.
Right, now back to the book review...
Thinking back, even knowing what I now know about the characters, I think the first 100 pages, or so, were too slow. I described it as feeling like a 'small English village/hamlet' drama, full of small town personalities and small town dramas, not really particularly interesting material for a book, especially not one that's been billed as part of a mystery or thriller series.
Page 30 - Insanitary? I believe the word's unsanitary.
Around this time in the story I began to get a sinister feeling from Rosemary, and made the comment that despite this feeling I didn't think that she would turn out to be 'Angel'. How wrong, and therefore funny, that comment seems to me now.
The following has been simply copy/pasted straight from my original review because my feelings about David and the scenes I'm describing haven't changed.
Right, not a big fan of David. So, he married the woman he was jealous over (Vanessa) and they've gone off on their honeymoon. Vanessa is a bit nervous about having sex with David for the first time, mostly, she claims, because she didn't have sex with her dead husband all that much (he liked to read late and she liked to sleep early).
Reading between the lines (not that Vanessa's being all that oblique about her feelings, not to anyone except David, it seems) it seems that Vanessa has found no pleasure whatsoever in any of the sex David has 'encouraged' her to have. She keeps saying she wants to please him, but at the same time the morning after their nightly sexual adventures (yeah, right!, from the description it's more like "kiss, kiss, in, oooh I'm done, out" while she hugs him tight to herself and rubs his back) she's always 'sore' and eventually, after a week of this asks for a break because she 'thinks' she's about to get her period.
His response to her being 'sore' (no one but him thinks she means in any place other than her genitals or internally) is that they've got pulled muscles from all this physical activity and they'll get used to it. His response to her not wanting sex due to the possibility of her period appearing is "Oh, that's okay with me. I'm fine with having sex during your period, how about you?" He seems to have forgotten that she also said she was 'sore' from all the 'fun' they've been having, he's just thinking about how to talk her into having sex with him again, no matter what she's feeling. In the end he has to listen to her and goes to sleep unsatisfied and possibly questioning the marriage (and this is still the 'honeymoon period', how's he going to manage the 'we've been married for years and are sick of each other period' that most couples enter eventually?).
David's not cruel or horrible, he's just completely clueless when it comes to women - he neglects to think of his daughter's feelings when it comes to him getting married (kind of out of the blue, too) and it doesn't seem to occur to him to think of whether his new wife is enjoying their marital relations. To be continued...
I have found it interesting looking back and seeing where many of the characters from The Four Last Things came from, metaphorically. At page 150 I still don't know how Rosemary goes from the teenager she is to the serial child killer (and eater, EEK!), what happened to Audrey to turn her into a crazy old lady with a prophecy of doom for Sally Appleyard, or what happened to Vanessa to make David a widow twice over (is that supposed to say something about David as a member of the clergy, that his wives keep dying?). With all those unanswered questions I have to believe that the next 130 pages will be more exciting than the last 150. To be continued...
28/9 - I didn't quite finish in time, but I did still finish. I also learnt a very useful lesson, that when I borrow a book from the library (which is readable only on Adobe Digital Editions) that if you happen to be reading a book at the time when it's supposed to expire you will be able to continue reading it WAAAYYY past the expiration date. I thought that when the expiration time passed ADE would come up with an error message the next time I tried to turn the page. That didn't happen, thank goodness as I still had about 50 pages (the 50 best pages at that) to go.
Despite, as I said, being the best pages of the book I still felt let down by those 50 pages because I was really wanting a decent explanation for what happened to Rosemary. A mentor of David's reminds David that Rosemary had shown sociopathic tendencies from the time she was a toddler, and so her homicidal behaviour wasn't really a surprise. I was really surprised by that comment as there is no mention of David (or anyone else) being particularly concerned by Rosemary's behaviour. In a few scenes he tries to 'talk' to her, but doesn't make much of an effort when she proves difficult to crack. If was worried about the mental stability of my child I wouldn't take silence or "Yes, I'm fine." for an answer. I would want to know more, dig a bit deeper into what might be troubling my child. I know it's set in the late sixties and early seventies, but still.
I also wanted to know what, if anything, the consequences of Rosemary's acts were. She murdered two people and mutilated a cat and there's no mention of any kind of incarceration, and by the time she appears in the first book (set in the 90s) she's free and claiming that her father believes she's dead. How did that happen? Did that happen? If that's not how it happened, how did she manage to escape her father's notice? I would assume, after two murders, David would be pretty attentive to her whereabouts. The Judgement of Strangers didn't really deliver the answers I was looking for after reading The Four Last Things and due to an extremely drawn out and tedious opening 150 pages I have to give this 2 stars. I hope the third book in the series surprises by being worth more than 3 stars.