Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Sheer Abandon - Penny Vincenzi

It is amazing how these top authors do so well in the beginning but fail to recreate the magic in their later work. Perhaps it is the pressure to churn out a bestseller or to uphold an established reputation, the initial books are the true measure of such successful storytellers and this book is a case in point.

I thoroughly loved Vincenzi's Spoils of time trilogy. Whatever, I read after that paled in comparison or seemed like a repeat of what she had already accomplished. Therefore, despite reading great reviews about Sheer Abandon, I was reluctant to give it a try for a long time. But when I did, it felt good to learn that the reviews were not far off the mark, after all.

Three successful women a doctor, a lawyer turned potential polititican and a journalist share a past. Years ago, they met up as students travelling around Thailand and one of them left a baby behind at heathrow airport on her way back. Years later, the girl now wants to know who her mother is and sets on a journey that threatens the present and the future of these successful women.

The plot seems very predictable but Penny Vincenzi adds value to it. It doesn't help that the synopsis is a bit run-of-the-mill. It was as if the book jacket told me all and failed to create the intrigue to delve into it. Howver, once into it, it was good to note that Vincenzi adds dimensions to the story and its characters in her classic style.

What works:

The plot is made of many storylines that run parallel-  the women and the girl's lives are narrated simultaneously and at the same time there is also a flashback that takes us to the time when the women were students. Although this is a classic Vincenzi template, of drawing up characters and their lives before bringing them together, she does it with the finesse of an experienced storyteller.

Her plot twists are quite good, reminding one of her successful trilogy. She handles, juggles and dodges events and situations enough to keep us keeping the pages turned.

What doesn't:

The story is a bit slow to get into. Having read many of her books, it was quite predictable to begin with. I knew I would get to hear about the characters first before we get down to swerves and turns of the plot. That wait was a bit of a drag. However, once the characters and their lives became familiar, Vincenzi then zooms into top gear mode and gets the plot going.

In a nutshell:

It is a very predictable storyline with some twists put in for good measure. It is a simple straightforward read, nonetheless very entertaining. One of the reviewers mentioned the word "riveting".

I couldn't disagree with her.

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