Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: "Sleeping With Patty Hearst" by Mary Lambeth Moore

About ten years ago, my book club read six books in a row, all women's fiction, in which all the male characters were scum of the Earth. As one of only two men in a group of fourteen, my testicles were constantly on the chopping block. "Sleeping With Patty Hearst" by Mary Lambeth Moore made me think of those days. In Lily's coming of age story, no man has a positive character litmus test, and I saw it coming early on. She does, however, rise up over my lowered expectations of male bashing and weave a story about two half-sisters with a Patty Hearst fixation. Moore draws us in with details, details, and more details into small southern town life, painting a strong picture of Lily's attempts to have some measure of normalcy in a dysfunctional family. Her mother, Lorraine, clings to a dubious past and hopes for rescue for a glorious future while Lily's sister, Connie, seeks to chart her own course in the world. At times funny and at times heartbreaking, the story pulled me on longer into the night than I usually read with some well-played twists and turns. For this reader, the ending felt abrupt, and I'm not entirely sure I understand the Patty Hearst relationship, which, at times, seems up front and center, and at other times, seems to fade into the background of the story. Nevertheless, these are minor criticisms of a strong debut novel with well-drawn characters and vibrant images. If your taste runs to women's fiction, this is a solid 5. For me, it's a really, really high 4.

No comments: