"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Afterthought by Janet Clare

I have taken to thinking of this novel as The Book of Wonderful Sentences. I love the voice of Janet Clare. She is wry with a dry humor and a hint of sarcasm. Just the kind of mix I really appreciate. There were two sentences that I found particularly compelling. The first is quoted from a portion of the book where main character, Lilly, is reflecting on life and her own mortality: "I'd seen enough friends die young to know that in the long run all I wanted was a long run." I love the symmetry and the truth in that sentence. That's all most of us want really, a good long shot at it. 

The second sentence I marked as one to remember is another thoughtful musing from Lilly that comes later in the novel: "I stared at the markings on the flat-bottomed gorge and thought about making good time on the wrong road." Sounds like youth to me, running headlong through life only to find out that you didn't have a clue where you were headed or why. 

Because I loved the thoughtful writing of this new author so much, I expected more from the plot line. I'm not certain, even after the closing curtain, what the goal for Afterthought was. Coming of age? Moving beyond the pain of lost love? Discovering familial love despite, or even because of, the ubiquitous skeletons and secrets? Discovery of self, love, self-love? 

Afterthought reminds me a little of the very early work of Jodi Picoult. Beautifully written, deliciously quotable and thought-provoking but ultimately missing the clenching plot line that captivates readers and keeps them burning through book-light batteries. I will look forward to more from Janet Clare. It will be interesting to watch her talent develop; as her early work compares to the early work of Picoult, I will not be surprised if she ultimately produces the same type of mind-bending page turners that are Picoult's trademark today.

You will find an official description of Afterthought's plot line at:

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