Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bookshelf: Anna McPartlin



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We've already established that I have a shopping problem (see Bookshelf: Sophie Kinsella) but today it reared its beautiful head yet again. I was twenty pages from the end of Anna McPartlin's "Apart From the Crowd" at lunchtime and the thought of riding the T home without something to read sent me into a fit and I promptly got up and walked up the street to Borders. Sigh. I bought two books ("A Breath of Snow and Ash" and "Riding Lessons". Two books I didn't need. But I never need books. It's complete lust and desire and I can't say no to myself. But enough about me Let's discuss "Apart From the Crowd".
It was the cover (isn't it always?) that drew me in. The yellow lab is begging to be smothered with kisses and the ballet flats are reminiscent of many shoes in my own closet. And also, it's about Ireland and I generally love anything having to do with England, Scotland and Ireland.

"Apart From the Crowd" covers four stories.
There's Mary - has lost so many loved ones. First her mother, then her boyfriend at seventeen, then her son six years later. All that remains are her father, her beloved dog Mr. Monkels, and her two close friends: Ivan (her cousin) and Penny.
Penny - Sad, pathetic Penny has been in love with Adam since they were little but he's married with kids. While that hasn't ever stopped their love affair it has left Penny spiraling down into alcoholism.
Ivan - his wife left him and took the kids to London to be with her new boyfriend. He tries to remain positive and is a great support for Mary, always has been since childhood. He's sort of the comic relief and a kind spirit.
Sam - A complete disaster. He died for a few minutes after overdosing on heroin and wakes up in rehab. As he nears the end of his rehab time he fears reentering his life will just cause him to use again. So off he heads in search of the little town his grandmother grey up in - Kenmare, Ireland, to get away from it all and try to start over and be a good person. But he's running from his past and eventually it'll catch up to him.

It was a serious story and yet I didn't feel weighed down by it. In fact, I really loved it. The only thing that irked me was that there were often sentences weighed down by too much. Sometimes analogies feel like overkill. Emotions stand on their own and don't need that extra oomph to get the point across. At least, that's how I feel.

The other thing was that I became confused at multiple occasions because POV changed suddenly. For the most part sections were broken up by perspective but that wasn't continuous throughout the book. Otherwise, those two minor annoyances aside, I loved getting to know the characters - flaws and all. And there are plenty of flaws.

I enjoyed my quick trip to Ireland and now I think (since I HAVE to read something on the commute home) I shall venture back into the world of Sara Gruen and read "Riding Lessons". If you have not read "Water For Elephants" you MUST. I picked this book up 1.) because I saw her name and love her writing and 2.) because of the horse on the cover, who looks rather similar (nose color aside) like the beloved horse who looks back at my from a picture on my desk. Sigh.

Alright, must run. To check out Anna McPartlin's webside slide on over here.

Happy reading!
~Stephanie
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