Thursday, July 22, 2010

BOOK: The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst, 311 pages

review book from RandomHouse Canada; Countdown Challenge

You are supposed to write about what you know, and Carolyn Parkhurst has written about an author, Octavia Frost. On her way to deliver her latest manuscript, Octavia reads on a newspaper that her estranged rock star son has been accused of murdering his girlfriend. This leads Octavia to to some remembering about her past and what lead to their estrangement.

An interesting technique in this novel was to include excerpts from Octavia's books within the novel. The idea of her latest novel is that she has rewritten the endings of all her novels and they are included. In the beginning, it felt too disruptive to the main plot, but as the book went on, these endings became more a part of the story, as the reader begins to see how much of Octavia is in all her own novels and why she wanted to change her endings.

The plot involving Octavia and her son Milo, and the murder of his girlfriend was the right amount of suspense. It wasn't quite enough of a mystery to be in that genre, but it was nicely played out, with enough characters with motive and clues to keep the pages turning. When I read The Swimming Pool, I thought the mystery of the death would play out more like this book did, so I was pleased as I do like a mystery.

The characters were all a little spoiled - famous author, big rock star, famous aging musician. Octavia narrates the novel in the first person, and she writes her story like a novel, and lives events in her life imagining how it would play out in a book - a little self-absorbed but also self-aware about her faults. As the book went on, I liked her a bit better as she came to grips with some of her past actions and she worked on getting along with Milo. How far would you go to defend your child?

Overall, a good read, with damaged characters, author insight, a touch of a mystery. 4/5

also reviewed: jen at devourer of books, jenclair at the book garden,wendy at musings of a bookish kitty ,


  1. sounds really great, I'll see if it's already out in paperback!

  2. joanna - You may need to wait a while for paperback - it's a new release in hardcover. Maybe the library?

  3. Jenny said:
    I'm interested in the technique of including excerpts from her books, and impressed that it ended up working well. I feel like quite often when writers try to go for that sort of collage effect, with the inclusion of "documents" or whatever, it can end up just being distracting.

    jenny - in the beginning, it felt forced, but as the book went on, some of the stories sounded good, plus it showed such insight into the author.

  4. I, too, was a bit put off by the excerpts in the beginning, but thought the connections more interesting as I continued to read.


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