Monday, April 22, 2013

BOOK: The Forrests by Emily Perkins

The Forrests by Emily Perkins, 340 pages

Orange Longlist 2013 (Women's Prize for Fiction)

I persevered through The Forrests, and finally finished. Ringing endorsement, eh?

Jenny wrote a post about the unified theory of her reading tastes. You should check out her theory - it helped me realise what it is about books I don't like. (Well, I've essentially copied hers). I don't enjoy books where the characters are not put into a situation where they are forced to make a decision, or deal with a difficulty or show some growth. Books where characters just float along and do some thinking, combined with a lack of writer's 'readability for my brain' are books that I end up not enjoying. I can handle one or the other, but both? Me and the book are in trouble.

That would be my problem with The Forrests, because I did have problems. Most of the interesting action happened between chapters, and the (eventual) main character just seemed to float through life. The point of view, with no one's thoughts or viewpoint stressed (what's that actually called?), also made it difficult to connect with anyone at all. (And I know it is cliche to say I didn't connect with characters.) For an example of the missing action, at one point, Dorothy has had a number of kids, becoming quite agoraphobic, and quite obese. At the start of the next chapter, she is swimming at a local pool, and the comment is made that she had been dieting for the past two years. What?

Dorothy is one of four Forrest children, and we follow her life. The detail in the beginning chapters,  about all the kids as the family moves to New Zealand, did not lead me to realize that it was Dorothy, and her entire life that we'd be following.There were lots of sad things, some good things; a regular life.

I didn't actually hate it, and there were chapters where I did get into the story. I respect what the author has written and why it would be nominated for The Woman's Prize for Fiction, but overall, not a story that I enjoyed enough.