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What do you do when a book you anticipate doesn't live up to expectations?
on September 2, 2010
The main storyline in this most recent Cedar Cove installment revolves around the relationship between Mack MacAfee and Mary Jo Wyse. Their relationship began at Christmas time a couple of books back (as a side note --notice the cleverness of Mary Jo's name) and was touched on in 92 Pacific Boulevard. There is also more revealed about other more recently introduced characters such as Shirley Bliss and Corrie and Roy's daughter Gloria. Some of the original characters still make appearances, for example Olivia, but they are not front and center this go round.
I know I am going to probably take a beating from diehard Debbie Macomber fans (and I count myself one of them), but this book was disappointing. I love this series and have always felt like I am visiting old friends and catching up with them when I pick up the next Cedar Cove novel. This time out, I really struggled to get into the story and found it to largely be lacking. Here is what I found to be the problem: way too much time devoted to catching the reader up on who the various characters are and what has happened in the previous nine books. I had a hard time getting into the flow of the story when every time a character makes his or her first appearance, the story stops and we go back and review who they are and what has happened in their life so far. If they make two appearances at different points in the book, we are given the background twice. By page 300+, I am still getting refresher information about Olivia and her previous illness and how it affected her marriage, etc. The book is only 366 pages long so I was fully expecting to be in the flow of the new material at this point. It really jerked me back as reader to have someone get in the car as a passenger and then spend two pages reflecting on their relationship with the driver prior to the car moving. While some of this is necessary, it has reached the point that it is distracting and irritating. There just isn't much new content here if you strip out all the old stuff.
I always try to offer a solution when criticizing something, but I am largely at a loss here. It may just be that Ms. Macomber needs to assume that people are not starting at book ten in the series and not try to recap nine books of material. If I were a first time reader, I would find not enough background to care about the characters and as a devoted fan, it was way over the top this time. She really has a problem here and I don't know how she is going to solve it going forward.
I love Cedar Cove, I love Debbie Macomber and I hate saying this ---- this novel is not up to the standards of the rest of the series.