So I previously read this book years ago when I was overseas. I found it in the library on base and I remember thinking, huh, looks okay, it's thick and hey, it's a romance novel, win, win. It took me forever to get through the book at the time (forever meaning two weeks because I kept stopping and starting the thing) and I found the whole reading experience to be agonizing.
I am not a real big fan of different narrative structures in books unless it works with the overall book. This book was written in such a way that it wrecked the development of the characters, the writing, and the flow. When we get to the ending (and what a mess that was) I remember just feeling irritated that I had wasted time reading this. I promptly took the book back and I remember checking out an old Julie Garwood novel that I found and happily finishing that.
I got this book last year by winning a Booklikes Christmas giveaway and I am not even kidding when I saw it after opening the mail I groaned out loud. I want to make sure that I finish up another 10 books on my shelves that I have let languish because I want to do a big donation drop at my local library before the end of the month. This is a roundabout way of me saying that I read the book because I won it, and I also wanted to see if it was still as bad as I remember it being when I read it way back in 2008. Survey says:
The book follows Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart, two lifelong best friends living in Ireland and excited about going away to college in America together. Things don't turn out as planned when Rosie gets unexpectedly pregnant and Alex travels to Boston leaving Rosie behind. Told over a period of 40 plus years (the book ends when they are both in their 50s) we follow Rosie and Alex through their emails, instant messages, and letters with each other and other characters.
The book is ultimately about two people who for the most ridiculous roadblocks ever thrown at them never tell each other about their changing feelings for each other. I think what drives me crazy about this book is that by the end of the book you just end up feeling like you wasted your time reading about two people who wasted their lives being with the wrong people because neither of them spoke up. It's maddening.
And because of the way that the story is told I could not get a sense of Alex or Rosie. Reading characters' replies to each other through instant messages and emails is one thing, but my God, I was starved for dialogue so much that it drove me crazy. I wanted to read about what people were wearing, how they looked, what they smelled, tasted, etc. The whole book just felt sterile. We also get additional characters in this book who you couldn't get a deep sense of at all. For example, the character of Ruby who kind of steps in for Alex as Rosie's confidante I think was played as mostly comic relief. However, at times there seems to be something else going on there as well. Another example is the man that Rosie marries, Greg, based on his actions in the book he comes across as a total cliche and I wish that we had actually gotten some interactions between he and Rosie that I could have "seen". It's hard to get a sense of characters through the medium that Ms. Ahern chose to utlize and when we have time jumps all over the place.
The writing was not that great. Then again it's hard to judge based on how this whole book was set up. We get that the character Alex has a quirk that he can't spell certain words correctly. And then Rosie's daughter has the same quirk. I kind of rolled my eyes about it. As I already said the flow was horrible throughout the entire book. I guess one thing to say though it is quite easy to get through this book because it's just messages/emails/etc and that's not a lot to really read when you think about it. However, jumping from one to another was hard.
The setting of Ireland and Boston don't really come alive for me at all in this book. And the ending when it did happened didn't make me swoon or think awww. I just thought, oh my, what a waste for both characters.