POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Tag Archives: Regret

Book Review: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

Author: Rachel Joyce
Title: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Random House
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Queenie Hennessy
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 167 reviews, the average reader rating was 86.95%.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

What’s It About?

Queenie Hennessy has reached the end of her days and she lies ready to pass in a hospice facility of southern England. Then, she unexpectedly receives a message from an old friend whom she has always secretly loved. “Wait for me,” says Harold Fry. Her friend, she discovers, is walking all the way from the northern end of England to see her–believing that he can keep her alive as long as he is traveling.

Partly overjoyed and partly panicked, Queenie begins writing Harold a letter that she insists he read when he arrives–before he sees her. All her life, she has been harboring two secrets–the secret of her love for him and a secret that can destroy any love he might have for her. As she writes her letter, she tells her story in a series of flashbacks and slowly reveals these secrets in her narrative.

As Queenie waits for Harold, she becomes the center of attention among the other residents of the hospice and its staff. Everyone gets involved in waiting for Harold Fry–giving a group of dying men and women a reason to hang on and inspiring an outside world with a remarkable love story.

Should You Read It?

Although I haven’t read it at this time, I understand this book to be a “companion novel” to the story of Harold Fry–I
in which Queenie is a minor character in the tale of Harold and his wife. So, if you enjoyed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, you’ll definitely want to read this. While carrying a serious, melancholy tone throughout, there is plenty of dialogue laced with humor. With much of the story unfolding through flashbacks and dialogue, the novel is largely character-driven. If you enjoy contemporary British works focusing on memory and longing, you’ll love Queenie’s story.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Washington Post, The Telegraph, The Guardian

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Rachel Joyce: This book is the sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (2012), which takes place concurrently with The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy.

Book Review: The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Author: Cynthia Swanson
Title: The Bookseller
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 352
Narrator: Kitty Miller
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 119 reviews, the average reader rating was 86.22%.

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

What’s It About?

Kitty Miller is a thirty-something year old bookseller from the 1950s working in a small Denver bookshop she owns with her best friend. As business starts to slow and the success of the bookstore is threatened, she begins having vivid dreams about another life–the life she would be living eight years in the future had she taken a different path.

In this other life, she is married to her dream guy and she has three children. She’s a family woman. Every night, when she goes to sleep, she enters into this dream life. When she wakes up, she’s back in the real world.

At first, everything seems perfect about her dream life–like it’s everything she ever wanted. As time goes by, though, she realizes that some things are missing from her dream life that would make it the perfect world. Soon, the dream even becomes somewhat of a nightmare.

As her dreams become more vivid, Kitty finds it increasingly more difficult to determine what’s real. She knows her brain is inventing one of her worlds, but which one? And why is she caught between these worlds?

Should You Read It?

This story is built around a psychological mystery with a touch of magical realism. While set in the 1950s and 1960s, the writing style, characterization, and dialogue are more or less contemporary. The theme involves the difficulty in coping with tragic circumstances and coming to terms with the way life works out. At its heart, The Bookseller is literary work dealing with the central character’s regrets and repressed memories, but the mystery through which these concepts are revealed to the reader make it an engaging read.

Links and References

Author Information: Integrity Modern (Author Website), Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Denver Post Interview

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, My Novel Opinion

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Cynthia Swanson: The Bookseller is Cynthia Swanson’s debut novel.

Book Review: Aquarium by David Vann

Author: David Vann
Title: Aquarium
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (Grove/Atlantic)
Number of Pages: 272
Narrator: Caitlin Thompson
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: C, Average; of the first 62 reviews, the average reader rating was 74.52%.

Aquarium by David Vann

What’s It About?

Caitlin is a twelve year old girl growing up in Seattle during the mid-1990s. Her mother–the only parent she has–frequently works late in order for them to eke out an existence together in a low rent apartment complex. Having nowhere else to go, Caitlin leaves school everyday and spends her afternoons at the local Aquarium watching the fish. One day, she meets an old man who also frequents the aquarium to watch the fish. Little by little, they begin to develop a friendship.

Caitlin’s mom has cut herself off from her family, and she never talks about her past. When she finds out that Caitlin has been talking to an old man, she jumps to the conclusion that the old man is a pervert and seeks to confront him. What she discovers, however, is that her past has come back to haunt her and the old man is no stranger–at least not in the way she thinks.

As Caitlin’s mother attempts to avoid dealing with her past, she reveals a hidden rage and becomes increasingly abusive with those around her–including her new boyfriend, her daughter’s friend from school, and even her own daughter. Caitlin must struggle with loving her mother in spite of the rage she exhibits, all the while seeking love herself from the others who are coming into her life as she grows older.

Should You Read It?

If you like stories about self-discovery, inner struggles, and broken family relationships, you’ll probably enjoy this book. The writing is rhythmic and poetic, while capturing the perspective of a child trying to understand the world of adults. Themes involve sexual exploration, coming of age, child abuse, forgiveness, and regret. If you’re into literary fiction that grapples with these issues, I’d look into this book. If you’re sensitive to the ideas of child abuse, child sexuality, or homosexuality, I would exercise caution–while not necessarily graphic, the scenes involving these issues can become fairly intense.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Wikipedia, Goodreads

Book Reviews: New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, Chicago Tribune

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By David Mann: Goat Mountain (2013), Dirt (2012), Caribou Island (2011)