22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
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This review is from: Rules of Civility: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Hmmm. I really wanted to like this book, having purchased after reading reviews of what appeared to be a great storyline, the key factor for me the NY setting. I was offended by the review by Chris Roberts - but can understand his rating. I gave this 3 stars, but on the Amazon scale my rating would really be 2.5.
The book is about a year (1938) in the life of 20-something Katey Kontent, 'written' (narrated) in 1966 as the now middle-aged Katey has a flashback memory of this period in her life when seeing a photograph of an old flame at an exhibition.
The book started off well enough, with enough description of NY, and character development (Eve, Katey & Tinker) to keep me interested. But suddenly the characters stopped developing, the action lagged and then the story ended abruptly followed by a few pages (on my kindle) of post-1938 summary, narrated 2-ish years later. Finally at the end the author, rather than Katey, appears to take over the 'narration' with several pages on 'the meaning of life'.....
Specifically, my gripes are these:
Quite a bit of the start of the book is devoted to developing the characters of Eve & Tinker - and then they just disappear out of the storyline! While Tinkers disappearance at that stage I admit is integral, I found it hard to fathom why I no longer had anything to read about Eve, having invested quite a bit of time on reading about her to that point. When Katey follows up the disappearance of Tinker with 2 separate romantic involvements (Wallace & Dickey), neither of those characters are at all developed either, with Wallace signing up for duty just when things get interesting (and I've spent an eternity laboriously reading a descriptive but ultimately superfluous passage on gun handling) and Dickey being passed over and written out of the story when Tinker makes a brief reappearance toward the end (before disappearing again). Wallace gets killed whilst on duty in a later 4 line piece with no emotion. It was at that point I became confused as to who Katey actually was and what she was thinking!
I need to cut this short.
The summary ending! I couldnt believe it -like a movie that ran out of time, several of the 'minor' characters were summed up with approximately 3 sentences each on life after 1938. Just so we know. And the information wasn't really ultimately satisfying either, not at all endearing Katey to me further. I sort of understand it, but I don't really like it, or the way it was written.
Finally The Meaning of Life passages at the end. Suffering a bit of a mid-lifer at the moment due to a shock diagnosis, a lot of the authors words rang a bell with me, which made me wonder if this is really what the book is all about? It might be a bit harsh, but I'm thinking this is a bit of a self indulgent expression of something wistful going on in the authors head, which started off as a great idea, but gradually petered out to a loss-of-interest conclusion. A bit like this review probably! I don't write book reviews....
Anyway, as others have written, I really wanted to like this book due to its promised storyline & location, and while it's not a bad book it's certainly not great. Not for a regular person like me. But then again, I'm struggling with Treasure Island right now also...