Monday, June 16, 2014

ARC Review: Flying Shoes - Lisa Howorth

Flying Shoes
Lisa Howorth
Series: N/A
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: A-
Goodreads | Amazon  | Book Depository

This book comes out tomorrow! AH! I received the novel from this year's Book Expo America, so I was more or less excited to crack it open.

And I'm entirely ambivalent about it.

This novel has a few things that make it enveloping and delightful, and a few things I couldn't stand.

Here is a scale:

Thanks Google!

Now, imagine, if you will, the great things about this novel: the cast, the humour, the beautiful word choice.

Mary Byrd Thornton is a heart-warming character, forced to tread lightly on so much broken glass after the old ghosts of her brother's murder are trudged up and thrown at her. What I love about this character is that she is separated by twenty years from this crime, and yet when called by the investigation, she drops everything. Her life in Oxford is still going on, and though she's afraid of flying, she makes the trek to Richmond. All along the novel her character is faced with guilt, guilt from possibly having a connection to the murder, of leaving her family behind to deal with another crime: her housekeeper, Evagreen, is arrested for murder. As if time doesn't heal, and on top of that, stacks more pain on. I just love the richness and depth of her fear and anxiety, it paints such a startlingly real picture of how pain influences people, how we deal with it. It's my favourite part of the novel.

Now multiply that by about ten. Lisa Howorth attemps to give us that level of depth with every character in the cast, from Thornton to Teever, the Vietnam vet. Barely a couple of chapters in and we know as much of Mary's children as we do of her: her daughter doesn't want to smell like her for example, and her son has a penchant for having the messiest room on the planet. It's amazing because she's trying to keep herself centred in her life but her life keeps moving, and Howorth uses this motion to present and capture something incredibly hard in a novel: simple reality.

And the writing is just damn good. The way Howorth pairs Mary's seemingly random thoughts with the action create head-nodding and heart-clenching moments just about every other page. I love love love that.
"She only bought the expensive, out-of-season fruit . . . for Iggy. The gnawed place with the shard oozed onto the heart pine." (Howorth, 7)
And on the other side, just slightly lighter is the plot. I love and hate the plot and it's enough to chip away a star. What I love about the plot is that it meanders and attempts to develop each character, and spin such a comprehensive, poignant story that the effect is charming. Halfway through the novel, I though Howorth was as masterful as Joyce, having set up such a magical version of consciousness through the eyes of Mary Thornton. The character's tangents and digressions often allow a break from the conventional crime thriller, turning it into a psychological landscape instead. Unfortunately, by the end it just fell short for me. I don't know if I'm too picky, but the characters didn't seem as fluid as they had in the beginning.

For example, I got the sense that Maan's life was only important enough to offer up wisdom on the social injustice and hypocrisies of Mississipi's past and the racial implications that has for the present.

Despite this minor infraction (which I admit, doesn't happen to every part of the plot, only to most of the secondary characters), I highly recommend this novel!

(As an ARC, the quotes should be considered with a grain of thought.)

- Marlon

Do you think time heals?
Let us know in the comments!

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