Tag: Walter

Review: Jane Green – The Love Verb

jane-green-the-love-verbWell I’ve now realised why it’s a bad idea to use the back of the book to decide which book to read, as the major ‘surprise’ plot point was given away on the back of the book, even though I read almost 200 pages before it was revealed in the book. It kind of spoilt it because I spent 200 pages waiting for it to happen.

I’m going to give away spoilers now though, so if you don’t want me to spoilt the book for you in the same way, I’d stop reading now.

The book is about Callie, a happily married mum to two kids, with a sister she is very close to, and two parents that she loves (even if they haven’t loved each other since they divorced 30 years ago). As I mentioned before, the first 200 or so pages of the book were spent introducing you to all the characters and setting up the little side-stories. Callie is experiencing some headaches and dizziness, and then at Callie’s birthday, her husband raises a toast to Callie for her birthday and for hitting the 4 year all-clear mark from her treatment for breast cancer.

But while out shopping with her mum and sister, Callie gets dizzy while driving and ends up on the wrong side of the street. She is forced to go back into hospital, where her deterioration is rapid. She’s weak and losing hair and weight so quickly that it shocks everyone. Then comes the shocker that we’re not prepared for. Callie has a disease that happens to about 5% of breast cancer sufferers called Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis. The worst news – it’s untreatable. Callie has a year, tops, but worst case it could be as little as 4-6 weeks.

Cue everyone else miraculously sorting their lives out before anything bad can happen, suddenly Steffi has found the man of her dreams, Lila is pregnant and Honor and Walter (Callie’s parents) are back together again.

And then, no matter how much hope we are given that it might not happen, Callie passes away. Now I know that this may be a hard part of the story to write, but it felt kind of like a cop-out. We get one page about Callie having died, and then we skip to the epilogue one year in the future, to let us know how fine everyone’s lives have turned out. It felt like an anti-climax, after 400 pages of build up and we have a one-page conclusion and then a short epilogue written to give the story a happy-ever-after kind of feel.

I did enjoy the book, and it was genuinely heart-breaking, especially when you find out at the end that the author’s friend died age 43 from the same illness. The story of Callie is not the story of Heidi, but Jane Green wrote the book and dedicated it to her friend.

I’d give it full marks if it wasn’t for the slightly disappointing ending, but I’d definitely recommend the book if you’re not afraid of having a little cry.


Review: James M. Cain – Double Indemnity

double-indemnity-james-m-cain-e1336595513384Well, it turns out that I was a little confused between Double Jeopardy and Double Indemnity, so the slight idea that I had about this book was completely wrong! Whoops!

In any case, the book was very good even if it was pretty short (130 pages). It was written in 1936 and you can tell through the style of the writing. It made a refreshing change though from the books that I usually read, better writing and still just as much plot.

The book is about an insurance salesman called Walter who falls in love with a woman called Phyllis and sparks a plot to murder her husband and take the insurance money. They manage to pull off the murder with a complicated but very well thought out plan and everything seems to be going well until the insurance company decide not to pay out the money on the grounds that it wasn’t an accident, but either suicide or murder.

Walter then strikes up a friendship with Phyllis’ step-daughter Lola (the daughter of the poor murdered man), and finds out that Phyllis has previously murdered other people in order to get their money, including Lola’s mother. He realises that he can’t trust Phyllis to keep quiet about his involvement in the murder, so plots to kill her and make it look like an accident.

It’s another well thought out plan, but the one thing he didn’t consider was that Phyllis might try to kill him too. He ends up in hospital with a bullet in his chest, and it looks like Lola will take the blame for pulling the trigger. He has fallen in love with Lola and can’t stand the thought of her being incarcerated or hurt by the policemen, so tells the full truth about everything that has happened, in fact, it turns out that the entire book has been his confession letter.

His colleagues at the insurance company can’t risk the news getting out that one of their salesman was involved in the murder of a client to fraudulently claim the money, so they arrange for him to get on a ferry and run away. But little did he know that Phyllis would be on the ferry too. The book ends with Phyllis and Walter jumping off the side of the boat to their death to avoid being captured and handed in to the authorities.

A very strange book with an unexpected ending, but one that I enjoyed a lot. It was completely different to what I usually read, but I’ve had a lot of books like that since I started my reading challenge this year, and on the whole it’s been a good experience.


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