Posts Tagged ‘characterization’

August 7, 2010

Remember Me With Love, By Mary Ann Artrip

Mary Ann Artrip

The advantage to reading big-name, well-publicized writers is that you know (more or less) what you’re getting in advance. The advantage to reading a little known writer is the delightful surprise of discovering something eminently readable, perhaps even memorable. I think we writers live and die by the old Billy Joe Shaver couplet, “I’m just an old chunk of coal/but I’m gonna be a diamond someday.” The author of this book has already pressed her chunk of coal to a twinkle, judging by this enjoyable read.

At a recent writer’s organization board meeting, Artrip, winner of a 2007 IPPY award, held this book up and asked me if I’d like to read it. I said, “Sure.” And the book charmed me. She bills it as a mystery/romance, and that’s true – it’s a bit of both. How would I have cast it? Maybe in a genre as a latter-day Charlotte Brontë. Her protagonist, Kate Spencer, a hard-working woman meets rich bigwig, Jon Ames, and after the expected romantic foreplay, they become a couple – after a fashion. But there’s a lover’s triangle afoot here – something I was hardly prepared for. And there’s a murder, a courtroom battle, and something of a happy ending.

The author writes fluidly; her prose is smart, her dialogue snappy, and she knows how to pace a complicated story. Perhaps the characters don’t resonate in quite the way one might expect of edgy, modern fictional inventions, but the tone here is Gatsby, it’s Jane Eyre – a romantic melodrama from another era – so the characterizations are forgiven.

My only concern is that, given the style, I wish she had pushed her narrator a bit more to the forefront. But she was clearly taking chances here – chances that might flummox a few readers. Still, taking chances makes life interesting. The story works and, despite this not being a book I’d have picked off a bookstore shelf, I’m glad I read it.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Review by Bob Mustin