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I agree and I like the way you phrased it - that she was almost admitting to herself that she deserved to feel grief. That part in the middle with the homeless guy - the whole scene was sick and twisted and really messed up - and yet what happened to her was sick and twisted and really messed up and all of those repressed feelings coming out at once... it was an interesting read for me. The whole point is to be uncomfortable and it worked.
Coming here onto the discussions made me a little sad because I was so excited by how much I loved this book.
To an extent I agree that a good thriller should drop you clues along the way and there definitely weren't many, or possibly even any. That being said - as the climax unfolds and tumbles down to it's ending, I was so impressed with the way it all played out. I did NOT see the reveal coming, I was way off in my thoughts - which I can tell is exactly where the author wanted me. I can generally predict endings or reveals in movies and books, and because I was so incredible wrong I am very impressed with the novel.
It was not scary in a traditional way, but I love the way the Pine Cottage scenes unfolded. Anyone who has seen a horror movie can really piece together visually the ambiance of the parts Quinn can remember about her night before the massacre began. I feel like this would make a CRAZY GOOD movie and if they play the visual effects and editing in a certain way I feel like the audience could be more involved in the guessing game than they are in the book.
All in all, I absolutely loved it. I did not think the writing was weak, I thought it was appropriate to the plot line. Is this the next great American novel? No. Is it a PERFECT summertime indulgence laced with murder, mystery, and intrigue. YUP.
I figured Eveyln was going to have something to do with the fathers death. I just thought it was going to work up until this giant earth shattering moment in Eveyln's life and we were just going to see it and GET IT. I did not think it was the car accident part at all and to jump back to that and have realized that we were so caught up in Evelyns life that AS THE READER I never ONCE thought about the poor person in the other seat. Because we were with Evelyn I followed her logic without blinking, no concern for the other, just simply how to preserve what is most important to me. And THAT was the magic of the reveal. I didn't care about the other guy until I suddenly cared VERY MUCH. Writing well done.
The death with dignity piece was a heads up for what the ending might entail, and it was well worth it. The reason I don't feel like the end was a cop out was the simple realization Monique had towards the end - it was the thing that built her career, that birthed her entire success, that would take her down in the end. "Boobs" got her there, and "boobs" would take her away. And yet - as true as it is, it's not true at all. Let's be real, she was a ballsy lady with a lot of personality. She was always meant to be big. But all Hollywood knows a sweet body and pretty face is certainly a leg up. I absolutely loved the parallel drawn, acknowledged, and technically disproven, considering Evelyn was a self made woman, and she would say how it ended, not her body being the one in control. Excellent, excellent, excellent.
Stanley Tucci would be sublime in this role. The only down side is how young they could make him look in his younger years when all the characters were in their 20s. Otherwise, excellent casting choice for an older Harry.
Multiple times I told my boyfriend that this would make an excellent movie. Moniques portion of the story would have to be more flushed out to be relevant and the big reveal on how they were connected would be complicated to orchestrate without giving much away (It would be glaringly obvious to me once we saw his lover was black, knowing Monique is bi-racial, that that was the connection). But it could be a wonderful movie done right with an A list cast as Old Hollywood and possibly an "introducing" opportunity for a fresh faced ingenue in Monique.
I feel like the final scenes - where it takes the intensity of THE moment in the hotel room and then he pees himself and realizes he truly is alive - that is a smaller, more intricate concept of the whole novel. He spent his whole life "being" but rarely doing anything and it took the sharp contrast of Elise in his life to wake him up. He felt woke, but now caught between two worlds, and he was never very good at having to make decisions. Having Elise in his life and cutting off his family was a huge decision he made, but now was struggling with. He snaps, clearly having some kind of mental breakdown, and goes back to an infantile state where he is in a safe space and doesn't have to make decisions. He's convinced he's dead inside (a feeling that was only metaphorical before is now what he truly believes). In that final moment when he pushes the gun away and pees himself - it's practically a rebirth. He IS alive. He CAN feel. And he CAN live without his family. Elise would do anything for him and that is real family.
Needless to say, I liked the book. Two very messed up people who found each other.
And to those who think Jamey should have stood up to his family and made them accept Elise - go watch an episode of GossipGirl or any rich people equivalent. Or acknowledge the real world. The upper class does not let in outsiders, a concept touched upon multiple times in this book. To keep it like "the real world" the reality is - you don't get accepted, you get your trust fund cut off. Or at best paid off. They were better off without his family. They would have never accepted her.
I agree overall with the concept that the writing could have been better. That being said - SOMEONE IN HOLLYWOOD MAKE IT BETTER. I could see this being a GREAT not-so-distant future dystopian love triangle YA film. Out of all the things that seem "forced" I did not feel that the realization of sexual orientation and attraction was forced. It was organically introduced and explored and I loved when I realized what was happening. I like that, like Scream and a handful of other clever movies, a type of art can take it's stereotypes, play on them, expand on them, and create something delicious while following the stereotypes in the art form.
When they make a movie- which I wholeheartedly wish they would, I would like if they could flush out Juliet, Trevor, and Nat a bit more. And instead of letting the ending lie the way it did, we need MORE. If the LIC has been around for decades or centuries or whatever they were implying, there has to be a fallout. What happens to all of the already active Love Interests that are out there in the field and have been for years, decades even? Who do they report to? Are they free to do as they wish? Has their whole world crumbled? Do they stay because the love is real? Or because they have no idea what else to do? This world is implied to be bigger than our main characters, and we need more of the far reaching information.
Whoever rewrote the last installment of the Twilight movie - when they took the ending of the book (which was garbage) and rewrote it for an epic fight scene later, it was awesome. Get that person in here to rework this ending and fill in some juicier stuff!
Overall - I really enjoyed the book. For all of it's cheesiness, I was really pleased .
I feel like your last paragraph there really nailed it on the head. She was just "so good" that this little thing could be overlooked. And this little piece ignored, And if we just get rid of this then... and if we just destroy this then... and in the end every little excuse led to something so big, how could anyone back track? So good. I really liked this book. And it's YA Lit to begin with, I feel like some people are being really hard on it here.
I liked everything when they were in Turks and Caicos. I felt the clearest showing of each character individually and together was from when Lauren slept with the poolside waiter up until their snippy fight regarding it. For Lauren it wasn't a big deal and for Sarah it was and the way they fight but don't just rings so true for many female friendships.
I think the title was completely well suited to the story. At first you just assume both girls are rich and pretty. Then later you get that they are divided by one who is surface rich and surface pretty. And then I feel like there was even a third layer. One can be rich in some things (freedom, independence, career driven) and pretty in their soul (fierce friend, helpful, optimistic, and steadfast in their obligations). I genuinely felt like the characters were well rounded. I felt like I completely understood where each girl was coming from, their unlikely friendship, and the comfort that comes from getting snippy with the same person for 20+ years.
So I know I am completely behind (this was a secondary book I ordered from one of the months and just got around to it) but I honestly cannot believe that so many people hated this book.
I am a realist. And this book for me was just about as real as it gets. Karen and I have been best friends since the first day of Kindergarten. 25 years. And we have had ups, downs, bests and worsts, etc. And this is life. We can go 6 months without talking or more than a phone call and it's still like nothing has changed. But everything is different. I don't know her regular friends. Her work friends. She is dating some guy I've heard all about and still haven't met. She smokes and is an introvert and never graduated college and works at a hospital. I work in an office and am moving in with my year long bf and we go on vacation 3 times a year. Our lives are nothing like each others. And yet - everything about our past is tied up in each other. We argue, we get passive-aggressive, we judge, we with-hold information, and then we fall back together again.
Just because two people are on different paths doesn't mean they don't cross paths over and over again. Sometimes the greatest anchor you can have is someone who knew you when you were young. Both characters had their flaws. I agree that Lauren was aloof whereas Sarah was kinda neurotic. Lauren felt burdened by Sarahs busy body attention, but Sarahs busy body attention is the kind of thing that draws people in to begin with. I love my best friend, but sometimes I take a deep breath and think to myself "am I ready for an afternoon of this?" But the answer is always a quiet yes.
I don't know. I just found the narrative to be incredibly real. And I didn't realize it was a man who wrote it until halfway through. I found the voices and opinions of each girl very natural. Something doesn't need to be drastic to be perfect. It doesn't need to be dramatic to be perfect. It doesn't need to be epic or intense or anything. I was just recently defending the end of La La Land to my bf. Not everything needs to start and end perfectly. Sometimes it's just the moments you spend with someone that are enough. That's life. Nothings forever.
I think what hit me the most was the humor with which she spoke of her father. The shitting story. That was f*cking brutal. Brutal. Painful to read. And why? It was honest, raw, and for some of us, relatable. I had a mother who was very sick for awhile. I have seen and had to help with some situations that I have never shared with anyone. And it's because they are brutally raw, honest, and painful to think of a parent that way. And the few things I have told people about - flushed it over with humor. It's the only way to get through these brutal moments in life - find something to laugh about to remind us that we are all human.
Yeah. The story is LITERALLY called "The Couple Next Door". Where the hell was Graham? Why was Cynthia relevant in the beginning for the opening sequence, and then occasionally referenced throughout, and then revealed to be involved with Richard in the end?
Also, if the Couple Next Door was in reference to Marcos and Anne, there should have been more voice from Cynthia and Graham.
I know a lot of people are really down on this book - and I understand why. To describe it simply I would say it's the voice of the book. It's like reading in present perspective, or told in a second person format as viewed through third person. So and so did this. So and so did that. Awkward voice gave us no connection to the characters at all.
And although I did feel like many pieces were "thrown" together, I did find that some of them actually stuck pretty well. I liked Marcos being involved. I liked that Cynthia was involved without fully knowing it (or did she, room for interpretation). But most of all I liked that the ending at least gave Anne's mental state a purpose in the story other than a plot device. Okay so she blacks out a lot and has violent tendencies. And that gave her and us a reason to suspect she harmed the baby. But in the middle of the story it was so random. So I appreciate the tie in at the end that gives it more heft than just a plot device to throw us off.
The other reason that last chapter is satisfying to me is that at every twist and turn in this story people were just digging themselves in deeper and deeper. I felt bad for Marcos, but didn't. I felt bad for Anne, but didn't. Etc. These people dug themselves into so many lies and holes and betrayals that the end makes sense - the next thing for these people to figure out how to cover up and get out of.
Was the book really well written? No. I could almost imagine this being pitched as a television show though. Give it a week to week flush out of characters, points of view, etc. Especially because it's present perspective would lend well to a script.
Something about her seems.. .corrupted. I want to say corruptable, but that's not quite it. If her character actually grows at all (and from some point of views I don't think it does, more on that later) throughout the knowledge - it is from the way she experiments with her power. I feel like there are 2 arguments to her character. The first is that she is a strange, shy, and coddled child. And in London she is not noticed much but for her oddities to Lizzie and Michael. Barely a blip on the radar. So perhaps it is the trip to Italy that she begins to experiment with her effect on the world around her. Beautiful people - they know they are beautiful. And at 10, she is beginning to know the power that has on the people around her. So she experiments, mimicking La Dolce Vita in the fountain, the Caravaggio, etc. She is having a somewhat erotic awakening. It's hinted at repeatedly. Michael's attention, different than others before (even if not inappropriate), gives her something to feed on. And she is experimenting with her own power, sexual or otherwise. I think she absolutely senses who Kathy is to Michael. Even if she does't outwardly, she knows she is a threat and wants it removed. The ring toss seems to me to be on purpose, and all of the remorse and act of playing puppet master. By this point, her control has reached it's ultimate test. And that tasty little dinner conversation about who you would provide an alibi for is rocketing around in her head.
Or... the girl is a messed up, little psychopath, Bad Seed to the max. And for the first time, she has something to play with other than her neurotic mother and absentee father. And so she plays. No growth. Messed up and shielded from the consequences by her beauty, innocence, and strange parents. Cold. Calculated. Crazy. I just happen to like the development better. But that's the juicy part of this story. We don't know what's happening in her head at all. She's so reserved. It's peculiar and compelling.
If it is within a persons means, then of course. The question of money shouldn't be the actual question at all. Raising your children to be respectful individuals who understand the value of a dollar is what should be in question. Plumb senior had the right idea - he just was lacking somewhere in the raising, certainly their mother was useless, so it didn't pan out the right way.
I knew when I was inheriting a small amount of money. It was then, and is now, as it was always intended, as a safety net if Plan A doesn't work out. Plan A is fine, so my little nest, not nearly Plumb sized, is sitting as it should be, with my very own George helping me manage it.
Inheritance should not be anything you rely upon. The father had the right idea - he just should have perhaps not shared the amount with his children. My mother always made sure that I took care of all of my financial responsibilites on my own. Money is earned, not given.
I'm actually genuinely surprised that people didn't love this novel and didn't feel more connection to the characters.
Obviously, Leo was the most unlikeable. And why? Because he is a charmer, he was bound to be THE most likable from the outside, but then again, we were blessed with inside knowledge. He was a song and dance man and he could charm the world around him, but he never learned to be accountable. He's despicable because everyone relied on him and he always danced his way through, and now when they needed him, he could have fixed it, but he was intrinsically selfish.
That being said, the rest of the characters - though flawed and to be pitied a bit - I don't think they were outside the realm of realistic. I know these people. These people are people like me. They were relying on money they thought they would inherit- and it didn't pan out. That's poor planning. Some were more selfish than others (Jack's case was particularly selfish while Melody's was a result of her nervous childhood , inability to feel needed in the right ways, etc). I felt each character was an excellent study of psychology, family interaction, and human imperfection.
If there were any characters I didn't particularly like - it was the smaller characters that probably didn't have enough "screen time" to warrant my affection. The Matilda, Vinnie, Tommy stuff was pure fluff to make the characters more interconnected than just the family. That fell a bit flat for me.
I actually quite liked the Plumb family as a whole (Leo and their awful mother aside). Losing the money from the Nest was the best thing that ever happened to them. They found themselves, and more importantly, they found each other.
Yeah it took me about 2 months as well. I actually haven't even picked up some of my other books - I'm so behind! Yeah, that's about it - it had more potential than it actually delivered. Unfortunate though. I happened to like Mouse a lot. You want the best for the characters you become attached too. And when they end is SO unsatisfying it is hard to walk away with a positive outlook. :(
I had brushed past these discussion titles before finishing the book and was a little nervous about how the ending might go. The only thing truly unsatisfying about the ending was how abrupt it was. No time for true excitement or closure. It just kinda... was. That being said, the story itself was great, it hurtled me along, I was fascinated with her life and the time period.
The character of Ray was seriously messed up. The nicest part of the surrounding characters falling a little flat is that in reality it would feel that way. They talk of how Ray might have been touched due to the fever. Or maybe he was just a bad seed. And knowing why he was bad wouldn't make him any less bad. He was sick in the head. And knowing he had to return was what hurtled me through the story.
I genuinely liked this book. But I agree with most people. I wanted to love it, but like that bullet in the officers back, it just missed it's mark. wink
I'm about halfway through this book. I thought I would be enjoying it more because I lost both of my parents before age 30 and I can find the humor in the rough moments. Anybody else reading this book that has a close personal connection with the content?