The Fiction Class by Susan Breen
|The Fiction Class by Susan Breen|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A sweet and romantic book-based story about love, loss and redemption. The writing backstory feels a little manufactured at times and the supporting characters are little more than cardboard cutouts, but the book is genuinely touching.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: March 2008|
|Publisher: Headline Review|
Arabella is named after a Georgette Heyer heroine. In some ways, her mother, who named her, actually lived the Georgette Heyer heroine life, for a while at least. The love she shared with her husband was as all-powerful as that of the characters in any romantic novel. But for much of her life, Georgette Heyer is the last person you'd expect to see Arabella's mother reading. Her husband became disabled, then died, and her mother became sour, embittered, sarcastic. Arabella doesn't seem much of a Georgette Heyer heroine either. She's in her late thirties and still single. Her novel has lain unfinished for the past seven years and she makes a living copy-editing and - oh, the irony - teaching creative writing to mature students.
The Fiction Class follows a year in Arabella's life, as she teaches the elements of successful fiction writing to her class, falls in love with one of her students and watches her mother die, hoping against hope that the twin spectres of an unsatisfactory childhood and grief for lost love that lie between them are granted some redemption.
The Fiction Class is genuinely touching. I believed in Arabella and in her relationships with both her mother and Chuck. I was rooting for redemption all the way through and wanted Arabella to find happiness and her mother peace. These focal events and relationships in the book are strong, credible and well thought through. However, the intertwining of the book class felt more of a frippery than a necessity - manufactured, not needed - and the supporting characters are little more than two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. I kept forgetting which was which - but I knew one was pervy, one was manic, one was ill, and so on.
The book would make a great holiday read - there's such an amount of wry but human interest in it. We've all had doubts about potential lovers, we've all wondered whether those doubts realised are still better than a future alone. We've all encountered difficulties in our relationships with our parents. At some point, we will all grieve. It probably doesn't have enough depth to make it more than that though.
My thanks to the kind people at Headline for sending the book.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Fiction Class by Susan Breen at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Fiction Class by Susan Breen at Amazon.com.
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