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From A to Zoe Kindle Edition
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Top customer reviews
The book contains a lot of the goofy humor you would expect from an Evanovich novel, say, or something by Sophie Kinsella--Zoe has adopted a rat who, it turns out, has escaped from a lab, and during one rather absurd scene has to protect him from his erstwhile owner, for example--but it is also metaliterary in a somewhat unexpected manner (shades of Carrie Bradshaw??), as Zoe writes, among other things, about her writing and her rejection slips. The prose style is, as I mentioned above, sparkling, with lines like "In lieu of the Big Apple, right now I would much prefer a more sizable one, a red delicious, if possible," but also has a more "literary" feel than you often find in similar books, with the aforementioned metaliterary moments ("I digress, sure, but digression is what a writer does for a living") and Zoe's vivid use of metaphor and simile. Readers who just want candy may not appreciate it, but readers who are looking for chick lit for smart chicks are likely to enjoy this book just as much as I did.
Zoe Zimmerman is a modern girl, a writer trying to slip the bonds of her small-town past in the middle of a seedy Manhattan that just doesn't give a damn, except sporadically, and then just enough to keep our girl plodding on. I've known Zoes in my life. Mostly I try to avoid them. They are, in the parlance of my adopted Southland, hot messes. They are hard to live with, but easy to love. They are too interesting for their own good.
This Zoe has a lump on her breast. She is trying hard not to think about it. Her married lover won't let her ignore it. He's one of the bonds she's trying to slip. As married lovers go, though, he's apparently one of the good ones. Doesn't hurt that he's a doctor. Be that as it may, Zoe is trying to make it on her own terms. She doesn't want the help that she needs.
Not to be ignored, life piles on, and before she knows it Zoe is a suspect in the murder of her boss. This is not nearly so upsetting as you might think after a cancer diagnosis. Trust me. I'm a two time cancer survivor myself. I know how this works. The author describes it like this:
"There are some strangely cozy, almost comforting moments in disease, at least for a writer. I live in another world, not a dynamic world, not a world of incessant movement, but a world of fatigue and medication, a fuzzed world of meditation."
There is a beauty and purpose down in that 'fuzzed world of meditation' from which it is difficult to rouse oneself—even in self defense.
There are a lot of lovely things in here. Fortiss displays genuine artistry in her writing. It is lyrical, painterly even, but not overwrought. There is minimal intrusion by the author. She doesn't explain too much—makes you feel good when you figure it out. For instance Zoe's brother's name is Ziegfried. So she says this about her rent-controlled apartment in New York:
“I share my palace with Ziegfried II. We had to get used to each other, and it didn’t take that long. Each night, he would come and cross the place at all speed, stop for a minute, look at me, mustache shivering and all, then cross the room again and hide. I started leaving a piece of Swiss cheese by his observation post. The first night he saw it, he looked at it, danced around it, smelled it, and left without even giving me a glance.”
So I love that she left it to me to figure out that Ziegfried II is a rat. I also love that this tells me quite a lot about Zoe, and about her relationship with her brother.
There is beautiful phrasing throughout. About waking up, she says, “ … full of myopia and mystery and the remnants of a dream.” or about the comfort of her lover, “... the perfect asylum of his arms.” There are great extended similes: “The lady’s laughter started in melodic adagios and ended in a symphony for trumpets written by a musically challenged brat. It invaded her body to the point that she almost destabilized herself, despite her sensible shoes.” … with a touch of humor.
Really, I love Fortiss's deft pen. From A to Zoe looks like Chick-Lit, but in the end, for me at least, it is just Lit, and in the best possible way. If you're looking for standard plot points and a satisfactory resolution of Zoe's sundry difficulties, you're missing the point. Zoe is a character. This is a character study. Zoe is as challenging as she is challenged, and it's really not about how she succeeds, but rather how she tries. Five solid stars from me. This is as good a book as I've read in some time.
This book was a pleasure to read. So much so, that I finished it in about 2 days. I have read Ms. Fortis' first novel in this series, Chainsaw Jane, and the follow-up is no disappointment. The author creates incredibly lush and complex characters who color the page with their wit, intelligence, and independent spirit. This is especially true of the novel's protagonist, Zoe Zimmerman. Intensely fierce in her resolve, and as passionate as 2 flamenco dancers, Zoe's life and character is portrayed honestly. I reason that many readers will find a bit of themselves in Zoe, as life takes her on a veritable roller coaster ride of situations. Zoe is strong, yet vulnerable-iconic, yet relatable, and frugal, yet sophisticated. The writing in this novel is quite rich with sensuality and humor. For those of you who need the sex and passion, have no fear. This novel has it as well, without the cheesy "Danielle Steel-esque" rhetoric.
I hope many will read this book and enjoy it as I have. My only suggestion to the author would be to choose more recent pop culture references. Although Agatha Christie and Denise Austin are relatively well known, I would worry that a younger audience would not relate to the book. To that younger audience, don't be afraid. Books are supposed to make you think. A younger reader may have to look a few things up as a result of reading Ms. Fortis' rich tapestry of art, literature, and political references. This is a good thing! If everyone did so, we might discover more intelligence and thought in this world...and God knows, we need it!
Most recent customer reviews
By Marie-Jo Fortis
Let me start right off by saying that my favorite part of this book is the Cover.Read more
It involves a murder, but it’s not a murder mystery.
Cancer rears its ugly head also, but nor is it a book about the illness.Read more
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