Monday, February 13, 2012

2012 reading challenge: Manhattan Dreaming by Anita Heiss

This is the first of my reviews for my 2012 reading challenge. I actually read two books from my list in January but didn't get around to reviewing them.

I really liked the idea of this book. The first quarter/third is set in Canberra/Golbourn and it's always interesting to read a contemporary description of familiar places. The protagonist is a female Aboriginal art curator who works at a gallery in Canberra and there's certainly not too many of them in fiction (and probably not in real life either!) The next setting is New York City, and one of the aspects I enjoyed most was getting to voyeuristically experience living there.

However. For me at least, this turned out to be a poor execution of a bunch of good ideas. I didn't think the writing was particularly skilful; not enough of the "show don't tell" - I found the style stilted and everything over-explained. There was a supposed twist at the end of the book which I thought was pretty obvious.

The protagonist just about irritated me to tears. Other than the fact she was an educated, succesful Aboriginal woman doing an interesting, professional job there wasn't much about her that I liked. I couldn't stand that her friends called her "Loz" as a nickname for "Lauren." I thought the way she behaved towards her boyfriend was entirely pathetic (I do realise that was sort of the point of the book, that she only went to NYC as a means of getting over/escaping from the boyfriend, but I still found it intensely annoying).

Other good things I can say about it is that it's a light, easy read. It definitely fits into the romantic fiction category, which was always going to be a challenge for me to enjoy. Others might not have the same issue I did with the protagnoist. That being said, it annoyed me sufficiently that if it hadn't been a book on my list I don't think I'd have finished it.

So not a very positive review for my first book! Fingers crossed the next ones will be better.


Stephanie said...

What a shame this one didn't pan out, particularly since chick lit really could do with some more diversity in its characters. The issues that you've named are some that I find crop up quite regularly in chick lit, though, so I can feel your frustration!

(Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting)

Anonymous said...

It's not ideal when you dislike the protagonist. It's a bummer this story didn't meet up to its potential.

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

It's a shame it didn't work for you. I find this genre relies on being able to like or relate to the protagonist, and if you don't the book is a loss.

Thanks for sharing your review for the Eclectic Reader Challenge!

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

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