Wednesday, April 28, 2010

REVIEW: Blame, by Michelle Huneven

Blame, by Michelle Huneven. Published 2009 by FSG. Fiction.

For me, Blame was one of those books I enjoyed a lot when I first finished it, and then enjoyed less and less as time went by.

The story focuses on Patsy MacLemoore, a woman from the wrong side of the tracks with a drinking problem, who falls in with the privileged Sharp family in 1980s California. One night, drunk, she accidentally kills a mother and daughter; she goes to prison; she comes out. Then, for years to come (and, she anticipates, the rest of her life) she seeks redemption, first through a tentative friendship with the man whose family she killed, then through a picture-perfect marriage to the upper class man of her dreams. But nothing is what it appears.

Like I said, I enjoyed the book while I was reading it. It's a page-turner for sure, full of breathless suspense and a supposedly killer plot twist. Just to warn you, if you don't want to know what the twist is, don't read the blurb on the back of the book like I did (hint: her name is deeply ironic). But even the blurb didn't give it all away and there are surprises in store no matter what. The best part of the book for me though was watching Patsy's transformation through prison and after as she tries to put her life back together, build relationships and figure out her place in the world. Her challenges and thoughts seemed realistic and I found it easy to care about her.

The problem with Blame for me wasn't that I didn't enjoy it when I read it, but it was like cotton candy- five minutes later I was thinking about something else, and it's taken me all this time to get around to reviewing it. The truth is right now I'm working up to writing my review for Yann Martel's new book and I needed an easy one to crank out. Lame, no? Blame is a fine example of popular fiction and readers of so-called "women's fiction" and suspense lit will enjoy it. I think it would be a good choice for book clubs as well as Huneven shows a lot of insight into womens' psychology and the psychology of addiction, creates complex characters and poses some challenging moral questions about the depth and extent of accountability. For me it wasn't a masterpiece but it was entertaining and I think it would appeal to lots of readers.

Rating: BACKLIST

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher.

10 comments:

....Petty Witter said...

I know just what you mean, I felt exactly the same on reading this book. Mny thanks for your thoughts.

Zibilee said...

This has happened to me on several occasions, so I know what you mean about this book. It might make a nice read for a lazy day, but I will have to remember that it's not really something that you can chew on after it's finished. Thanks for the honesty in this review Marie.

twitter said...

I read this book a few months ago and the story has stayed with me. I thought the character and her stint in prison were extremely authentic.

nomadreader said...

This book really appeals to me, but I haven't seen it reviewed on many blogs. I'll still read it, but I'm glad to have my expectations tempered a bit. It sounds like a nice summer read.

bermudaonion said...

I thought this book was pretty good. I didn't read the back, but still saw the twist coming, so it wasn't that suspenseful for me.

caite said...

funny how a book can be like that, that you like it when you read it, but it has no staying power.
At least that is better than a book you start to actually dislike as you think about it...

Sometimes entertaining can be enough.

Florinda said...

This book's been on my wishlist for a few months, and I heard Michelle Huneven talk about it as part of a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books last weekend. I'm still planning to read it, but I'll wait for the paperback.

eveningreader said...

I agree completely! This is exactly how I felt about Blame. I though it would be so much more riveting, and while it was well-written and enjoyable, it didn't hold my attention at all the way I expected.

Kathleen said...

I guess this is just one to read and not remember! I'll probably read it and either opt not to do a review or be sure to write and post one immediately! I am intrigued by the premise so I don't want to miss it.

Nymeth said...

This is why I've been trying to learn to wait some time before I write my posts. Some books just prove so forgettable :\