Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan

The setup of the novel held promise. The central character is a woman suffering from a severe anxiety disorder. She also was permanently disfigured by an abusive husband. Alone, in her grand house on the hill,  she watches the town below her, and becomes involved in the lives of the residents there, but from a distance. Her contact with the outside world is practically nil, except for a local priest who has the odd habit of stealing spoons.

On the whole, I found this book somewhat maudlin. I'd hoped to be more drawn into characters that held promise in the descriptive blurb, and to find depth in the the nooks and crannies of Mill River. As it was, there was a heavy-handedness gave away each plot revelation far before I'd even started to wonder what would happen, so that the by the end of the book, I was just waiting for the characters to get on with it. The nurse educator in me felt this could have been an opportunity to educate about anxiety disorders, which can be life crippling. Instead, there was more of focus on Mary being set up for life, financially, and never having to want for anything, than on overcoming her disability. I found myself thinking over and over how different her life could have been, without taking away from her charitable efforts, if someone had been able to get her the kind of help that could have given her the strength to combat her fears.

Whenever I receive a book from an outside source, or from a debut author, I try to give it an honest review of what I thought. And, I hope that review will be positive. Sometimes it's not. I think there is an audience for this sort of book, though, I am not the correct one.  However, I am extremely thankful to Random House for sending this book to me and for introducing me to the Random House Reader's Circle. And to Ms Chan, should she read this review, please keep writing. Not everyone nails it for all readers, especially on the first try. You had an idea, a story, and a vision, and pulled it together. That's more than most people can do. Apparently enough people liked this book as an ebook when it was self published for a major house to take it on, and I see you have a sequel that comes out in August. Goodonya! I wish you and Mill River, VT well.

Tags: color-me-disappointedcurrently-reading,first-novel-or-bookho-humi-got-bored,random-house-readers-circlethougt-i-was-gonna-like

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