Monday, 16 June 2014

Review: The Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White

A haunting and beautifully written debut novel by an exciting new talent. When Betty Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can't forget the girl, can't ignore the strange behaviour of her neighbours, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart. 'The Qualities of Wood' is a stunning novel from an exciting new writer. Perfect for readers of Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve.

Paperback, 370 pages
Expected publication: June 17th 2014 by HarperCollins Authonomy
Terri's Thoughts
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Harper Collins Authonomy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!  The expected publication date is June 17, 2014.
I have started and stopped writing my thoughts several times.  I am really struggling with my opinion on this read.  It is easy to pen my thoughts when a book is outstanding or when it is terrible.  This one was neither and hence I do not know what to say.
The writing style was easy to read and flowed well.  My main issue was that nothing really happened in this story.  I am still left wondering what it was about.  Was it a mystery?  Was it a story about self discovery?  I don't know.  I feel like the story and its meaning was underdeveloped which made its 370 pages feel very long.  I sense that the message that was meant to occur failed to materialize for me.
While the book was filled with interesting characters you only got a sample of each.  The reader never really learns anything about them with the exception of Vivian.  I have the feeling this was intentional however it really didn't work for me.  I wanted to know about Stokes, Lonnie and Dot.  Perhaps learn more about Nowell's story.  This was an unexplored avenue that really could have been interesting.
All in all this was not a bad read.  Just a little on the disappointing for me as I feel it had so much more potential then it delivered.  This will not discourage me from reading more work by Vensel White as I do feel that she shows potential.  This book was just average for me.

About the Author

Mary Vensel White was born in Los Angeles and raised in Lancaster, California. She graduated from the University of Denver and lived for five years in Chicago, where she completed an MA in English at DePaul University. Her short fiction has appeared in The Wisconsin Review and Foothills Literary Journal. The Qualities of Wood is her first novel.

Vensel White currently lives in southern California with her husband and four children. She is working on another novel set in the Midwest, a place that flourishes in her imagination despite her sunny surroundings, and a collection of interrelated short stories.


Twitter:  mvw888    


1 comment:

  1. The blurb is definitely attention grabbing but an interesting premise can only get a book so far unless the story actually gets developed. I think I'll give this a miss unless I come across it at the library or something. Thanks for sharing! This is the kind of book that I would've tried hard to get and would have ended up being disappointed with.