Do you really want to spend a half an hour of your time listening to a blow by blow account of how Diane, an Elm Creek Quilter, who never remembers to charge her cell phone, gets stuck in a snow storm with only 8% of her battery left to make… 1 call? Not an iphone, for sure. Her call goes unanswered, and she leaves a message on an answering machine about needing a rescue squad. Oh, drama! An incoming call from her husband has this verbally aggressive mother of two suddenly mute, unable to tell her husband that she and her car and her thanksgiving spirit are stuck halfway down an embankment….
The charming Elm Creek Quilt theme is there somewhere underneath the heavy Thanksgiving Hallmark card, but not charming enough.
Author of 41 books of Christian fiction (and never a best seller) gets used to living with her annoying mother-in-law and her hapless daughter while she complains about her life to God. It is not at all evident that God is interested.
Women are trained to make excuses for bad behavior. Here are some for Stuart Woods’ latest fictions:
1. Since James Bond, we all know that there are no married heroes of crime novels. Stone Barrington can’t survive as Stone: cool, urban, sexual gourmand, in married bliss. The minute Stone married Arrington she was doomed.
2. Woods’ predominantly male readership is carrying such huge hostility toward women over into the second decade of the 21st century that the only way to appease them is to kill at least one bitch per novel. Arrington was this year’s bitch.
3. The scene between a middle aged woman slapping a man with whom she is alone in a semi-finished house in the Virginia countryside is not unrealistic, badly written dribble but the sly BDSM fantasy of every middle aged man with a faltering prostrate.
No mystery here. Lots of recipes, though. Maybe you could play it in the kitchen, as background noise for baking chocolate cake.
Two London twits, one Giantess and one Mum, run a domestic agency, performing unlovable chores for unlovable wives with money. The two twits rehash I Love Lucy daffiness during the subprime era of extravagance. Another dose of the English language fading into bad American dialogue and imitation Hollywood idiocy.
The lines are drawn quickly – boom boom boom. Here is Israel, here is Russia, here is history. Here is crime, here is terror. Here stands Gabriel Allon: here, on the side of art. And Ivan stands here on the side of death. Like a Tarot layout.
There is a bird’s eye view of wealth, apres ski, and the new moneyed KGB, false passports, false names, false paintings, false millionaires.
There are the usual types: A fierce, crude, merciless, amoral Russian millionaire with 3 lovers, 2 children, a wife and a fleet of bodyguards. The hoary old spymasters, the believers, the Zionists. The mercenaries, the Americans, the businessmen.
Racy beginning but then the book is put on automatic drive.
A mature, stubborn wealthy widow gathers up a group of brittle, neurotic or lonely girlfriends to help her daughter succeed as a journalist for one of the lesser entertainment magazines. The helpful project helps the girls in turn. A Red Hat Club imitation, without the charm.
Forget the tax on sugar. Tax bad dialogue, dreadful characterizations, idiotic psychological profiles. To wit:
When he was a child the twitch had made him the target of merciless teasing and bullying. It had made him burn with hatred. And that hatred had driven him to succeed. Victor Orlov wanted to beat everyone and it was all because of the twitch in his left eye.
Read it as farce.
Slow, cloddish, cumbersome and overcooked dialogue stretches across this morality play about an ugly presidential election. Add the ‘aching sadness’ and ‘fatal failures’ and ‘eyes shining with tears’ of flat white characters, but read on. Hear the slimy campaign advise of slimy campaign managers:
“Girlfriend is bad. Black girlfriend is worse. Black actress girlfriend is the fucking trifecta.”
Yep, the divorced war hero candidate couples with a beautiful black actress in the middle of the campaign. Guess what happens?
Good idea, poorly executed.