Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: In Accord

I have very mixed feelings on Kristin Chambers' novel, In Accord. I didn't dislike it but I didn't exactly like it either. The story didn't quite grip me enough and I couldn't quite connect with or understand the characters but there's something there. Something that I think many other readers could enjoy more than I did.

Here's the synopsis:
It's October in Buffalo as four long-time friends, The In Accord Book Club, gather around a fireplace while a fierce windstorm amasses strength outside. They are deeply disappointed with the unfaithful characters and lackluster resolution of the novel they've met to discuss. When they agree to each write a richer, more satisfying conclusion in lieu of their next month's selection, none has any idea of the tempests about to erupt in her own world. Their intertwined lives and personal journeys, by turns humorous, sad, touching, and inspiring, furnish the raw ingredients for the new epilogue each writes.
At times I found myself wondering what, exactly, the point of the novel was. There is so much more going on in this book than the synopsis even begins to hint at. And it sort of meanders. I suppose you could say that it was very much like real life, that all sorts of things happen just the way they happen in the book but I like when my novels have a purpose. There was also a weird timing shift at the beginning that threw me off. There's one chapter, a sort of prologue I suppose, and then the second chapter takes place a few years later. I also thought the events of chapter one would play into the rest of the story but it doesn't. It was so out of place. The synopsis also mentions humour...I don't remember laughing much, if at all, while reading this book. I don't need all books to be all fun, all the time but I can't handle it when there aren't many light moments to speak of.

Part of the meandering feeling came from the fact that every character had at least one chapter told from their point of view (but still third person). And I mean every character. It made sense for the women to each have their own chapters but hearing from their children, spouses, and others, was sort of odd. All that being said, Chambers does an amazing job of weaving it all together. As weird as it was to hear from these characters, it didn't feel out of place for the overall story. Does that make sense or am I just contradicting myself? Basically, I appreciate that Chambers could tell the story well from multiple perspectives but I wonder if it was necessary to have so many perspectives.

I sort of wondered, when the women were talking about how much they disliked the ending of the novel they had read for book club, if I would end up being disappointed in the ending of In Accord. I kind of was. It wasn't so much how everything turned out for the women; I'm happy with their choices and that they seemed to be getting the lives they needed. My issue was more with how the ending was written. Everything was wrapped up but the last thing that Chambers wrote was actually an ending rewrite from one of the women. It just felt weird to have a fake novel's fanfiction (because, really, that's what it is) be the last thing that's read of In Accord. I don't know how else to make this make sense, it's hard to not give the ending away, but I just didn't like it.

I liked that all the women were very different. Of course, that made me wonder, at times, why the hell they were all friends. Honestly, the things they held back from each other were so odd. And sometimes it really didn't seem like they even liked each other. I know that no friendship is perfect but even though these women had been best friends for eighteen or so years, I wondered what really kept them together and staying friends.

I know my review of In Accord seems quite negative. It was a hard one for me to write because, like I said, I didn't actually dislike Kristin Chambers' novel. It was quite possibly a personal thing that kept me from liking it too much and I do think others would like it. Good writing can go a long way and I found Chambers to be a good writer, which is probably what helped me not hate the book. If you're intrigued by this one, check it out.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.*

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