Book Review: A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

smallindiscretionTitle: A Small Indiscretion
Author: Jan Ellison
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
Number of pages: 336
First line: London, the year I turned twenty.

Goodreads blurb: At nineteen, Annie Black trades a bleak future in her washed-out hometown for a London winter of drinking to oblivion and yearning for deliverance. Some two decades later, she is married to a good man and settled in San Francisco, with a son and two daughters and a successful career designing artistic interior lights. One June morning, a photograph arrives in her mailbox, igniting an old longing and setting off a chain of events that rock the foundations of her marriage and threaten to overturn her family’s hard-won happiness.

The novel moves back and forth across time between San Francisco in the present and that distant winter in Europe. The two worlds converge and explode when the adult Annie returns to London seeking answers, her indiscretions come to light, and the phone rings with shocking news about her son. Now Annie must fight to save her family by piecing together the mystery of her past—the fateful collision of liberation and abandon and sexual desire that drew an invisible map of her future.

Quick take: I liked it, but didn’t love it.

Okay, I guess I shouldn’t leave it there. Let’s see, what I can I add? (Can you tell I am REALLY ready to be done with writing reviews?) I liked the writing, and I liked the way that the story built up to a very big twist at the end – one which I did not see coming.

I didn’t like the way the author handled all the switching between times. There was the time she was nineteen in England. There was now, when we know something terrible has happened, but we don’t know what. There was the time last summer when she did something stupid. There was the time after that when she told her husband she did something stupid. There was the time before that when she hired someone new to work at her shop. There was the time the really big bad thing happened. There was the time after that happened when another big bad thing happened. And she switches back and forth, willly-nilly between all of these times, and I constantly had to re-orient myself in the story. It was very disconcerting.

The ending was satisfying and unsatisfying at the same time. One major plot point was wrapped up nicely; one was left hanging. Argh.

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Favorite covers of 2014

divorcepapershumansbellmanandblack
blackchalkdarkedenmartian
underthewideandstarryskywhitedogfellfromtheskythinkingwomansguide

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester

menwhounitedthestatesTitle: The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible
Author: Simon Winchester
Genre: Non-fiction, history
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Number of pages: 434

Goodreads blurb: The acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Atlantic delivers his first book about America: a fascinating look at the men whose efforts and achievements helped unify the States and create one cohesive nation

“History is rarely as charming and entertaining as when it’s told by Simon Winchester.”-New York Times Book Review

For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum-Out of many, one-has been featured on America’s official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses these questions, bringing together the breathtaking achievements that helped forge and unify America and the pioneers who have toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizens and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings.

Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, including Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery Expedition to the Pacific Coast, the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph, and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths of territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland; Rochester to San Francisco; Truckee to Laramie; Seattle to Anchorage, introducing these fascinating men and others-some familiar, some forgotten, some hardly known-who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree.

Featuring 32 illustrations throughout the text, The Men Who United the States is a fresh, lively, and erudite look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together, from one of our most entertaining, probing, and insightful observers.

I have a slightly shelf-worn copy of The Men Who United the States to give away to one of my US readers. Please leave a comment by the end of the week, and I’ll enter your name in the drawing. Good luck!

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