March 26, 2006

An Ocean Apart

An Ocean Apart by Robin Pilcher
Contemporary Fiction

Finished on 3/22/06
Rating: A- (8/10 Very good)

Sometimes I’m utterly amazed by the sheer number of new books released every year. As I gaze about our house and see all the books I’ve acquired over the past 10 years and have yet to read, I feel a sense of panic. Will I live long enough to read all that I want to read?

I’ve had an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Robin Pilcher’s An Ocean Apart in my stacks for over six years. I don’t know what possessed me to finally pull it from the shelf, adding it to the stack next to my bedside, but I did and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. But only because I didn’t really expect anything extraordinary. Yes, he’s Rosamunde Pilcher’s son, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s as talented as his mother. His writing is very nice, but it lacks the lyricism that Rosamunde evokes in The Shell Seekers, Winter Solstice and September.

This is a story of love -- love between family and friends, not simply a romantic love story. The setting was pleasantly drawn, but left me hungry for richer details like those of his mother’s.

While I enjoyed the book, I do have a couple of minor stylistic quibbles with Pilcher’s writing. The first has to do with the excessive use of the word “reckon,” which simply didn’t ring true in the dialogue. It struck me as a word you’d hear from a cowboy in one of Larry McMurtry's or Cormac McCarthy’s novels, rather than from a part-owner of a large distillery business in Scotland. But maybe I’m wrong -- perhaps it’s perfectly common in British slang. Even so, reading it several times on a single page was disruptive to the narrative flow.

My second complaint pertains to the use of a supporting character who is introduced in the opening chapter. I got the general impression that this person was a close friend of the family, and would become an integral part of the storyline. However, after basically using her to provide a means to explain the back story, Pilcher subsequently dropped her from any further appearances, leaving me to wonder where exactly she fit in the scheme of things. In a character-driven narrative such as this, a loose end like this feels weak and unnecessary.

All in all, it was an entertaining read with very likeable characters. At times it seemed a bit predictable, but that suited me just fine. Sometimes it’s nice to know that in the end, everything works out for the best. It’s comforting to know that, in books at least, things can work out, the good guy wins, love saves the day, and terrible wrongs can be righted.

While it’s not a book I loved and I doubt I’ll ever read it again, I couldn’t bear to add it to my stack to take to our local used bookstore for resale. It’s one I’d recommend and be happy to loan out, and I look forward to reading more by Mr. Pilcher in the future. But first to tackle the books I already have!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:46 PM

    I felt very much the same way when I read the book. Some of the dialogue didn't ring true, but sometimes I think that's because I don't hear a lot of "young talk". I read another of his books recently, but didn't like it as well.---Mom


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