I hate to say it, but this is the second book I have read in a matter of two weeks that was a finalist for the National Book Award, and the second book in a matter of two weeks with which I was thoroughly disappointed. This was a tad bit better than A Feast of Love, but only a tad....and only because it was shorter.
This was something outside of the norm of what I normally read in the sense that it is a series of short stories that are compiled to tell one complete story. I like the idea of this, and won't shy away from this style in the future, but was not engrossed with this book. It's the story of a group of middle-aged women, all of whom are divorced or widowed, leading their lives in the suburbs and trying to "discover" who they are now that their children are grown and their husbands are no longer around. I really, really wanted to like this book and gave it a fair shake until the last page. But it just didn't flow. Much like The Feast of Love, it wasn't cohesive. The characters seemed eccentric for the sake of being eccentric and half of the time I had no idea why a certain story was being told or what on earth was going on. It was somewhat comical, at times, because I found myself reading it for an hour or so and then Mark would ask me how it is and I would say "You know what? I'm not really sure. I have no clue what this book is about or what it is that I just read."
It was an interesting concept and had the potential to be a great book - and clearly I stand alone in my opinion since the people who decide the finalists for the National Book Award thought it was worthy of the title. But I'm starting to get weary of those shady National Book Award people, so I am going to go back to reading what my gut is attracted to and not reading something because of its accolades. I thought it would help me find great literature, but I've just been disappointed as of late, so I'll back off a bit and see where it leads me.
So, sorry to post two negative Nancy reviews in a row, but I gotta' call 'em like I see 'em.