Sunday, May 4, 2008

Susan Kay Law/THE PAPER MARRIAGE

I should preface this by saying I'm not generally a romance reader. I went for this book because the concept interested me, but unfortunately the concept was overshadowed by what for me was unrealistic character development.

The main character, Ann, is married to John, who has been in a coma for nearly 12 years after a car accident. Ann visits John daily and is essentially frozen in time. John was her first boyfriend and lover, and she's more or less resigned herself to never having another.

Tom, a former baseball star, moves in next door, and his sixteen year old daughter moves in for the summer. She and Ann become friends, and Ann and Tom naturally become more.

And it was right there that the book lost me. I'd really hoped for more of an exploration of how such a marriage works, the moral issues and ethical issues of a spouse who's not expected to wake up, and how you live your life like that. There was a very little bit of this, but not what I'd hoped for. Ann is shocked that people are suggesting she should date again; I was only shocked it took them twelve years to get to that point, and also not convinced it would have taken that long.

Being a romance, Ann and Tom naturally get together. To my mind, though, Ann's personality changed completely in the space of a few pages, suddenly flirtatious and suggestive where literally the night before she'd been cool and distant. Other characters had similar issues; the only one who consistently felt real to me was Tom's daughter.

I understand from romance readers that part of the attraction of the genre is seeing two people, who from initial appearances should not be able to make a relationship work, getting to the point where they CAN make one work. The way Ann seemed to change overnight took that out of the book, and without it I didn't find it as strong a book as it could have been.

2 comments:

Lisa said...

I'm not a romance reader at all, but like you, I might have been tempted to check this out, based on the initial premise.

Last summer I met a woman whose mother was in a coma for eleven years. It was a far more compelling story. Her father basically became a closet alcoholic and she, the older of two girls became the surrogate mother and wife in the household. The father was basically unable to move or to change jobs because it would have resulted in a loss of the medical insurance that kept the mother in a good medical facility. The mother's family was Canadian and at one point the kids and father wanted to see if the Canadian relatives would take over her care because it would have been covered, but they would not. After a year or two, the husband and children also wanted to remove the comatose mother from life support as she'd been diagnosed brain dead, but her Canadian family wouldn't allow it. A much more interesting real life story I think. Sorry for going on so long, but when I saw what this book was about, I had to share this.

Heather Wardell said...

Lisa, most definitely a more interesting story, and I think more along the lines of what I was hoping for from this book.

What a tragic story that is. It's something that would obviously have huge impact on everyone in the family, but that impact was somehow blunted in the book.

Heather