Monday, June 23, 2008

Brook Evans

You know how you can sometimes fall for an author after reading just one book? I did for Jeffrey Eugenides on the strength of his opening line in Middlesex - talk about having me at "Hello" - and I so enjoyed it that I read The Virgin Suicides, which, frankly, was a bit of a disappointment.

It was love at first read with Susan Glaspell's Fidelity as well, which was why I wanted to read Brook Evans...but like Jeffrey Eugenides before her, this second date was a disappointment.

From Persephone Books' site:

The second Susan Glaspell novel we publish was the first-ever book published on the newly-launched Victor Gollancz list. Its description of the effects of two lovers' brief happiness on succeeding generations parallels Fidelity's focus on the immediate effects of an unsanctioned love affair : we see Naomi trying, misguidedly, to ensure that at least her daughter Brook (conceived beside a brook twenty years before) can be true to her passionate nature.

Like DH Lawrence, whose Lady Chatterley's Lover was also published in 1928, Susan Glaspell believed that society should respect the effects of passion instead of valuing it far less than the forces of respectability and economic security.

A film of Brook Evans, The Right to Love, was made in 1931, the year Susan Glaspell won the Pulitzer Prize for her play 'Alison's House'.

While Fidelity felt dense (in a good way) and provocative, Brook Evans felt tired and irksome. I was annoyed and unsympathetic towards the characters - particularly the title character - quite honestly, because of their piety. While I don't expect to relate to all the characters in my books, nor like them all, I do expect to feel sympathy for them, or why bother reading? But there was none, save for Naomi, Brook's mother, who I felt for in Book 1. As the novel moved forward in time though, I just felt pity for her.

Maybe I wasn't reading it with the right frame of mind because I almost didn't want to finish it. I felt I should only because I liked Fidelity so very much and hoped that this second book would redeem itself but the end seemed hasty and sloppy...predictable even.

And to think I stayed up late past midnight last night to finish it. Booo.

1 comment:

The Lone Beader said...

I love immersing myself in a good book to the point that I have to stay up late to finish it!

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