November 17, 2011
Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons
2008 Grand Central Publishing
Rating: 3/5 (So-So)
For as long as she can remember, they were Cam and Lilly—happily married, parents of a beautiful family, and partners in life. Then, after decades of marriage, it ended as every great love story does… in loss.
After Cam’s death, Lilly takes a solitary road trip to her and Cam’s favorite spot in Maine, the place where they fell in love, and where their ghosts still dance. There she looks hard to her past—to a first love that ended in tragedy, to meeting Cam, to a marriage filled with exuberance and safety—to try to make sense of her future. It is a journey that begins with tender memories and culminates in a revelation that will make Lilly reevaluate everything she thought was true about her husband and her marriage.
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run...
There was a time when I finished every book I started, no matter how dull or how poorly written. It felt wrong to not keep plugging away at a book that had come highly recommended or one I’d received as a gift or one by a favorite author that I’d been longing to read. Several of my favorite books have taken well over 50 pages to draw me in, so I always felt I should give each and every book I pick up a decent chance. As the years have passed, I’ve been less inclined to follow this principle and these days I have no trouble tossing aside a book that hasn’t grabbed my attention in the first 50 pages. Life is too short, blah, blah, blah.
So why do I hesitate to give up on an author who repeatedly fails to impress me? It’s one thing to continue to follow an author who runs hot and cold (Anita Shreve, for instance), but to keep reading one whose novels never live up to the one you first fell in love with? That’s just silly, don’t you think? I wrote the following over four years ago, after reading Up Island, also by Siddons:
It's been almost six years since I discovered Anne Rivers Siddons and her remarkable saga, Colony. I loved that book and felt as though I'd found another Rosamunde Pilcher in Siddons. I went on to read Islands and Sweetwater Creek, but neither impressed me nearly as much as Colony (Islands earned a 3/5 rating; Sweetwater a 2/5). The House Next Door was quite good, but more of a horror story than Siddons' typical works.
And now I've read Up Island. It wasn't a bad read, but it certainly wasn't another Colony. I enjoyed it for the most part (although toward the end, I found myself getting impatient, wanting to be finished and on to something else). Siddons is quite a descriptive writer, but I wouldn't go so far to say she's a lyrical author (Pat Conroy and Rosamunde Pilcher are two who do excel at painting a vivid picture in my mind's eye).
And now I’ve read another that fell short and left me wishing for more. As the closing chapters drew near, I found myself flipping back and forth, trying to sort out the details, which were muddled and vague. The ending was abrupt and completely unbelievable; I wish I had someone with whom I could to discuss the paranormal aspects (reminiscent of The House Next Door). And, looking back on the entire narrative, I realize that there were many unresolved plot lines and ridiculous scenes and dialogue.
It’s definitely time to call it quits on this author. I’m not reading as often as I’d like and there are far too many talented authors I’d rather read.