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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8 Responses to Book Review: A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

  1. Belle Wong
    Twitter: msbookish
    says:

    All that jumping around does seem a bit disconcerting! I don’t like it very much when something major is left unresolved. Minor things are fine, but when it’s something major I end up with a really dissatisfied feeling. Unless it’s one of those episodic fiction series, I guess! Then I’m kind of expecting it.

  2. Susan says:

    Sounds like a lot of switches. And maybe a small indiscretion turned out not so small after all?

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  4. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    I stopped at your rating because I’m reading this one for a freelance assignment … I’ll keep my expectations in check.