Since I started by blog, I’ve done an annual Advent Book Calendar highlighting books I have enjoyed and authors I really like. This year I thought I’d do an Advent Book Calendar with a twist; for each day leading up to Christmas, I’m going to post a review of a book to which I’ve given only one star (Throw a book at this one) or two stars (Don’t put this book in your book bag). Though I would not recommend these books, others have disagreed with me. Each book, on Goodreads, has received a 3 or 4 Star average rating.
Review of Lacey’s House by Joanne Graham
Rachel is a young woman with a difficult past; Lacey, a simple woman viewed by most people as a mad old woman, had an even more difficult past. The two become neighbours and develop a friendship as they share their tales of loss. Lacey’s story, however, raises questions when Rachel discovers facts that totally contradict Lacey’s version of events from her past.
The novel is structured around chapters that alternate between the two protagonists. Rachel’s chapters are written in first person point of view whereas Lacey’s are in third person limited omniscient point of view. The advantage of this approach is that the reader becomes aware of the thoughts and feelings of both women and so comes to understand the reasons for their behaviour. This is especially important for an understanding of Lacey whose grasp of reality sometimes seems tenuous.
Rachel proves to be a dynamic character. She comes to terms with her past as she shares her story with Lacey and listens to hers in turn. Lacey’s life story serves to put Rachel’s own experiences into perspective and makes her realize she must take certain steps to avoid a future that could be as difficult as her past.
There are some twists but generally the plot is very predictable. Lacey’s visit to a lawyer, for example, foreshadows the inevitable ending. Likewise, certain topics of conversation keep cropping up and they indicate the direction events will take.
The theme is clearly stated: “it is easier to imagine a life without flaws, without difficulty than to accept a desperate reality you are powerless to change.” Both women do that, Lacey more so because of her circumstances. Of course this is a very human coping mechanism so readers should be able to relate.
Life in a small rural village is portrayed realistically. The author seems to understand how small towns function: the gossiping and rumor-mongering, the unwillingness to accept those who are even slightly different, the respect given to the village doctor.
This book is not really the literary fiction I normally read so I am perhaps not best qualified to judge its quality. I can, however, imagine it being made into a Hallmark movie.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.