Read for: February Book Club
Purchased from: Amazon vendor
Rating: 7 out of 10
Synopsis (from Library Journal): Hope Clearwater lives alone in a beach house in an unnamed African country, trying to patch together her shattered life. An ecologist, she had come to Africa to participate in primate research and to heal the deep wounds of her marriage to a brilliant English mathematician; but she soon found herself plunged into another crisis, one that threatened not only her career but also her life. In a book packed with scientific and mathematical metaphors, Boyd explores how people create, defend, ignore, or subvert the belief systems that govern their lives. If on one level this is an intellectual thriller, on another it is very much an exciting and riveting adventure story, and on yet another a subtle examination of the power grid of personal relationships.
My Review: I read the book in less than 48 hours, because it was shipped Media Mail and didn’t get here until Monday – and Book Club was Wednesday. Frantic reading ensued. Anyway, I thought Boyd’s writing was strong and interesting, and I liked how he split the book into two “persons” — Hope’s time at the monkey preserve is in first person, and her time with her husband is in third person, like she was so far removed from her past that she couldn’t even use the word “I.” I liked that this book was both a mystery (what is going on with those crazy monkeys?) and a look back at her difficult life. I like that the whole thing compared men to apes and how they aren’t all that different. But it was a little graphic in places (again, what is going on with those crazy monkeys?) and I really wish this had been written by a woman. Boyd created a woman who was too mannish. She knew too many things about guns. She had very little inate femininity. Sometimes I had to remind myself I was reading about a woman. But overall, I thought it was a decent book. Only a few of us at Book Club actually liked it — many thought it had too many loose ends. But it didn’t bother me. For a woman who’s in the middle of her life (30, perhaps?), looking back at things that have happened to her, it’s okay for a few loose ends. I’d hate to think that I’ll have everything tied up nicely in two years!