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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes a thin wall isn't such a bad thing...
Ever lived in an apartment where the walls were a bit too thin and you often overheard music from the next apartment? Did you ever wonder who was listening to that music and why? What did the music do for them? How did it make them feel? What were they doing while listening to it? Did you ever overhear too much of a conversation? Or maybe you just heard bits and...
Published on June 3, 2009 by Shannon L. Yarbrough

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3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Different
Reading this was an incredibly unique experience. I can't say that it was either good or bad, for there were elements of both. The subject material will not appeal to everyone and I believe there are some who might find it impossible to finish, due to the brutality of certain scenes - although anyone who has read the blurb has been forewarned.

The Thin Wall is...
Published 1 month ago by Jen


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes a thin wall isn't such a bad thing..., June 3, 2009
This review is from: The Thin Wall (Paperback)
Ever lived in an apartment where the walls were a bit too thin and you often overheard music from the next apartment? Did you ever wonder who was listening to that music and why? What did the music do for them? How did it make them feel? What were they doing while listening to it? Did you ever overhear too much of a conversation? Or maybe you just heard bits and pieces and you were left to fill in the missing pieces?

Did you ever overhear an argument that sounded detrimental to someone, and yet your curious mind just listened instead of turning up the television? You didn't do anything to stop it. Did you ever wonder if someone was on the other side listening to you? While the majority of my questions suggest you could somehow judge Cheryl Anne Gardner's book, The Thin Wall, by its title, if you did you'd be wrong.

At 124 pages, Gardner embraces the novella format, a particular type of book I have to admit I haven't read in a while. And in her book, the reader is treated to those brief scenarios, those un-muffled pieces of conversation you could hear through the wall once you turned off your television. I was constantly eager to turn the page to find out what would happen next, only to find the characters in a new setting and having new conversations on a different day without any of the "in between" movements that often push a longer novel along. Gardner has whittled the story down to its bare essence and given you, quite purely, only what you need to know.

The story revolves around five friends and the relationships that mingle between them, and Gardner does not just scratch the surface of their friendships. She tunnels through the very veins of each of these characters, carefully dissecting the differences that lie between their hearts and their souls. Laleana O-Reilly, a librarian slightly obsessed with the Marquis de Sade, finds herself torn between two very different men. To make things worse, the two men are close friends within the group of five. Julian, the dominant one of the bunch, visits Laleana's bed with maddening "monsteresque" fury. The two explore the brutal realms that lie between pleasure and pain. But their blood-laced habits soon run Laleana spiritually dry, and she finds herself bored with Julian's lust as her heart desires something much much more.

The "something more" is a shy introvert named Ioan. He's quiet. He's an artist. And he spends his nights burning his paintings of nude women because he just "can't get the blood right." Might I add that several of these paintings are portraits Laleana herself has posed for. Between posing for Ioan, having afternoon tea with her girlfriend Cecile, and hanging out in the projection booth of a porn theater with an addict named Tom, Laleana ignores their warnings about Julian as they spy the healing cuts on her back. But an awkward and intense moment shared with Ioan one night will soon change everything.

Brimming with passion and sexual tension, their story lines often reveal more to the reader than what is written right on the page in front of you. Laleana's love for literature and her own writing habits give the book a certain depth outside of the submission and dominance her and her friends explore. The book even ends with a short story written by Laleana entitled "The Muse and the Alchemist."

By blatantly presenting her characters with such honesty, Gardner commands her readers to question their own inner identity, as presented in these lines from the last chapter:

"A person is defined by what they do and what they don't do. It really is that simple.

Our lives belong to us and no one else.

Were we better people for the self-imposed trials and tribulations we had endured? Had we gained anything appreciable from the choices we had made, the blood we had shed, the secrets we had chosen to reveal, or the shadows we had confronted in blind faith? We would all like to think so.

True salvation lies in this knowledge. It lies in the cruelly eroded crevices of a cold thin wall."

Cheryl Anne Gardner tears those walls down! She has given us a brilliant character study focusing on where the lines between sex and friendship blur. It's a place you don't want to go to, a conversation you don't want to overhear, but curiosity will have its way with you. And when it does, The Thin Wall is the book you should treat yourself to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, March 20, 2012
By 
Mary Firmin (Rancho Mirage, Ca.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Thin Wall (Paperback)
I read Cheryl Anne's Gardner's novella in one sitting on Sunday afternoon, I could not put it down. When I first began to read, I thought it was written by a distinguished British Literary author, but some of the later pages displayed a layer of English bawdy which I found to be irresistible. The writing in this story is so exquisite it propelled me into promptly purchasing her next novella, The Splendor of Antiquity.
In my opinion I believe The Thin Wall is a coming of age tale of five friends exploring their sexuality, and defining their creative lives. Julian is a perfect narcissist who follows only his own sexual perversities, and Laleana goes along with the sado-masochistic sex to satisfy some inner need of her own to be violated, and besides that, she likes rough sex.. This story is not for the faint of heart but Cheryl Anne delves deeply into their non-conformist feelings and attitudes which is what makes this story so special. Each character surprises the reader in the end as they all change to a degree -- and they all do not change. They persist in their avante garde lifestyles, loving each other and leaving this reader to doubt many of her own life choices. The Thin Wall was a fabulous read for me who rarely reads novellas, but who now plans to read everything that Cheryl Anne Gardner writes.

Review by Mary Firmin, author of Deadly Pleasures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Cutting Edge, June 8, 2009
This review is from: The Thin Wall (Paperback)
Cheryl Anne Gardner's fourth novella is a concise study of the psychodrama that is inevitably present in a sadomasochistic relationship. The author presents her characters through their own thoughts and conversations, explaining the complex psychology of the group as the story unfolds.

The key issue surrounds a lady who has been involved in a long term relationship with a very controlling man who is also seemingly quite unpredictable and abusive. The S/M cuts much deeper than the little whips designed not to leave marks, as employed in Story of O. Laleana shows the scars from repeatedly cutting herself with a knife, as well as those from the cleverly sadistic Julian. The sexual encounters and their violent contexts are carefully, thoughtfully presented in a brief, delicate manner, though, so The Thin Wall avoids entering any prurient or pornographic area.

The Thin Wall is the story of five old college friends, two women and three men, who are still socializing together at the ripe ages of their late thirties. None of the five are gay, but they are certainly independent singles who have little interest in marriage or children. They meet in the local pub on weekends and visit each other's apartments and other locations for long-term, yet fleeting, sexual relationships. The plot is set in London and the author is quite obsessed with all things English, including odd spellings and phrases here and there that might easily distract the average American reader. No more plotline or character development will be revealed in this review, but the storyline is as much like the movie The Big Chill or an episode of Friends or Seinfeld as it is the book or movie version of Story of O. The five characters interact with each other in personal, revealing ways in a show-don't-tell, pleasing manner, and there are enough surprises to keep the reader interested until the end.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Different, June 11, 2014
This review is from: The Thin Wall (Kindle Edition)
Reading this was an incredibly unique experience. I can't say that it was either good or bad, for there were elements of both. The subject material will not appeal to everyone and I believe there are some who might find it impossible to finish, due to the brutality of certain scenes - although anyone who has read the blurb has been forewarned.

The Thin Wall is a story of pleasure and pain. Of love and obsession. It is beautifully written with some of the most elegant prose I've ever read. Truly. I bookmarked over half a dozen pages on my Kindle just so I could go back and enjoy them again. The wording is, at times, poetic.

The novella itself, however, is not perfect. Perhaps my unfamiliarity with this kind of shorter work is to blame, but I wanted more from this piece.

The characters are fascinating, each of them, and very individual. Yet (for the most part) I never felt like I was getting to know them. It was more a case of them being introduced, each given a backstory, then merely watching them play out their roles. With more length, I feel each person could have shined in a way they never had the chance to, here.

Laleana was the exception. I can't say I admired her, and I didn't always sympathize with her, but she was very real. Her strengths and weaknesses, her confidence and vulnerabilities, were genuinely portrayed. She was interesting to read, a challenge (albeit a fascinating one) to understand.

If you're looking for something different, something dark, this novella is worth taking a look.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and different, June 3, 2011
This review is from: The Thin Wall (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book. Once again it is something unique and different. But this time the characters are people I swear I knew in graduate school.

The characters in this particular novel are men and women trying to live their lives in spite of the expectations of family and society. It is a theme that I can understand and empathize with. Of course, the story is still dark and a bit bloody, so read only if you think you can handle it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars shaken AND stirred (emotionally, that is), April 7, 2009
This review is from: The Thin Wall (Paperback)
This work is probably the hardest review I had to do yet. While I had read two previous books by Cheryl Anne Gardner, The Splendor of Antiquity, and Logos, The Thin Wall is a radical departure from Gardner's romantic roots into the realms of darker, subconscious psychology and individual philosophies she masterfully delves into in this work.

One word to describe this book for me? Drastic.

I would lie if I were to say that The Thin Wall is an easy read. It isn't. Where the storyline is subtle and woven deep between the actions and events, dialog and behavior are crucial to understanding the story. While utilizing sex as a tool to slice into the depths of human consciousness, this book is not sexual in nature, and neither is it erotica. To be honest, I am not sure if there is another way for me to classify this work other than Literature. Gardner has masterfully adjoined elements of romance, erotica, literary fiction and psychological realism to create a story that is both entertaining and frightening at the same time. At least for me it is. There are scenes in this book that I had a hard time reading, nonetheless, these scenes are indispensable if one is to come to a conclusion at the end. At times lighthearted, at times gruesome and violating, the story follows four characters on their quest for happiness.

United by a common rejection of society and its superficial norms, Laleana, Tom, Julian and Ioan live their lives the way they want to. Admirable as this may seem, it comes at a cost -- Emotional cost. While all four have in common their well-to-do background, they do not capitalize on the power of their families to achieve any of the goals society deems important. For one, our four friends have completely different desires; at the same time, they are nonconformists. While their sexual behavior is somewhat extravagant (in my eyes) it is a major part of the story itself. But as with everything else in this work, even the sex is a metaphor. The story deals with love and the pain of loving; it deals with codependency, submission, voluntary torture (be it psychological or physical, accepted or self-inflicted) and most importantly, with trust. The kind of trust only a few of us may experience (or be able to give), the kind of trust only very good friends are capable of.

The story is told through the eyes of Laleana, a librarian and a writer. Gardner's portrayal of the character is immaculate -- an intelligent, educated, independent woman whose love for the written word comes through even in the most casual of conversations. And this is where Gardner truly shines -- having read her earlier works, Gardner, as an author, is growing. From a literary standpoint, The Thin Wall, in my opinion, is her best work yet. The language is eloquent and even poetic at times, and no words appear wasted. However, there is something about this work that did bother me. A subconscious "me" was struggling with the conscious "me"... an inner battle I have not experienced in quite some time. Does this make The Thin Wall any less appealing? Certainly not. I am sure that there will come a time when I will reach for this book and read it again. Perhaps, with a different mindset than the first time, I will discover some hidden meanings which might have escaped me the first time. But such is the case with any piece of good literature.

One thing is for certain: The Thin Wall will not leave you cold. Whether you will find yourself emotionally involved, shocked, cursing, disgusted or with a hard-on, (or perhaps all of it), The Thin Wall will seep under your skin and stay there for quite a while. And so is Gardner -- an upcoming author whose works are only getting more intense with each new release.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Thin Wall, January 14, 2008
This review is from: The Thin Wall (Paperback)
I doubt Cheryl Anne Gardner will have trouble finding an audience for her new novella, The Thin Wall. The deviant sexual lifestyles of the main characters practically guarantee a readership. They sure sold me on the idea. But, as with Gardner's previous three novellas, the depth and layers of meaning permeating the narrative make it a torrid mirror of the human soul.

Laleana and Julian discover each other as freshmen in college, alongside the Marquis de Sade. In middle age, the two are accustomed to impromptu sadomasochistic trysts. Their relationship has forged its own metaphoric bonds in addition to the physical ones they revel in. They find comfort in a small group of friends, each with their own extreme sexual identities. As the friends seek absolute release in romantic freedom, they cannot deny the basic human need for love and companionship.

There is so much wisdom and clarity packed into the novella that every single detail of the story plays a role in the self discovery of the characters. Each time I read the book, I uncover a new connection or layer of intensity that I missed during earlier enjoyment. I found myself relating most to Laleana, probably because of her passion for literature. "I loved them all equally, from the short story, to the poem, to the play, for nothing could touch me so deeply as a well-placed word."

Gardner explores the precarious boundaries between pleasure and pain. She forces the reader to view aspects of human nature that we may not be keen to own up to. Her characters are passionate and dramatic, with an obvious flair for the macabre. She writes with the eloquence of a literary master, uncovering the beauty that lies within the grotesque. The subtle prose that carries the reader will be the same that creates a lifelong connoisseur of Gardner's work.
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The Thin Wall
The Thin Wall by Cheryl Anne Gardner (Paperback - March 19, 2009)
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