Literature without a clear purpose often disappoints me. Despite an author’s extraordinary storytelling ability, for me, dark novels void of even a quasi-hero are less than satisfactory reading, I cannot seem to shake the feeling that I am somehow missing the point and maybe I am.
Surely, that is the case here in this well-reviewed book by a respected author nonetheless; I simply found the story annoying. In spite of the criticism I will receive for injecting myself so deeply into the review, I believe in light of the circumstances, it is the only way I can be fair. After all, book reviews are really only opinions, unless one writes a synopsis and labels it as a review, it is the reviewer’s impression that is a compilation of reactions based upon his or her background and personality.
Characterized as dark chick-lit, an idea that seems to be sort of an oxymoron, even so, The Last Anniversary certainly fits the description. Ultimately, the story focuses on the individual dysfunction of several characters, oddly enough, brought together by the death of a childless matriarch that leaves her estate to her nephew’s former fiancé.
In short, Sophie gives up her life away from Scribbly Gum Island, takes over her former fiancé’s aunt’s estate and emerges herself into this dysfunctional group made up of friends and family. Of course, they all have secrets and none of the characters is beholding of any remarkable qualities.
Generally, I am not this cynical about a book even when I don’t particularly like it. Often characterized as a positive reviewer because I typically find value in every story and if I don’t, I simply do not review the book. I appreciate the work that goes into every book. Nevertheless, in all fairness to this author, the overall rating for this book on Amazon is four stars. Therefore, I must surmise that my annoyance with the story is my problem and is not an opinion shared by other readers.
Like most people, surrounded by individuals with real issues, I am constantly looking for ideas to help any one of them. Clinical depression, illness, and addiction are epidemics, therefore when I read books about people with problems that are more or less common, unlike in a biography where life dictates the outcome, in a work of fiction, I want the author to show me some dynamic, albeit fictional lies, revelations either in how the persons cope, overcome their demise or perhaps in the end do not.
In the end, this story represented a real apathetic approach to dealing with struggles that plague everyday people. Grace, a new mother, suffers from postpartum depression, and ultimately, at the end, when her baby smiles at her she’s seemingly healed. I have watched three different friends struggle with this type of hormonal depression and a baby’s smile no matter how endearing could not lift the darkness that nearly destroyed them.
Published by Harper Perennial, The Last Anniversary is available in paperback, ebook, and audio on Amazon and other book retailers.
|Review by Sammy Sutton|