Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Photographs and Memories by Barbara Fifield

Should have been a good drama....but overloaded with flashbacks!

When Angela finds out her alcoholic sister, Martha, is sponging off their aging parents in Florida and making herself a problem they are now far too old to deal with, Angela must persuade her husband to give up all they have in New York and move south to help out.  Struggling with new jobs, a new climate and the impossible Martha, Angela and her husband, Kevin, find their nerves becoming more and more raw and their lives more and more strained.  They never had to deal with anything like this in their peaceful life in New York.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, Angela's mother dies.  Angela turns to her husband for support, but in the cruelest turn of fate, he too suddenly passes away.  All alone, except for the helpless Martha, Angela must now gently coax her failing father into a nursing home.  how does Angela cope?  how will she fare when her need to act has passed and, alone, she must quietly face her losses? (taken from the back of the book)

This was actually a touching story.  Most of it was well-phrased and formed.  The characters are interesting, although they could have used just a bit more brightening.  Watching Angela dealing with her losses was difficult as a reader.  Some of the plot just had me shaking my head though.  It was hard for me to fathom a woman in her fifties/sixties behaving in the manner of Martha.  I don't doubt those people exist, but I'm thankful I don't know any of them. 

Though I enjoyed this story, the flashbacks really ruined it for me.  At one point I started giggling because I reminded myself of the wife in 'Funny Farm'.  There's a scene where she finally reads her husband's book and she's just crying and crying.  He asks her if it's really that good and she responds that it's just aweful!  All the flashbacks have ruined it!  That's exactly how I felt.  A quick rewrite without a flashback every other chapter would do wonders to improve this book.  Sometimes I found myself confused because I wasn't sure if we were still in a flashback and which stage of Angela's life we were in.  Although, since that's my only complaint about the book, that's not too shabby :)  I expect Fifield to keep improving as she journeys further into fiction. 

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