Good writing, poor story

The Dependents by Katherine Dion

BOTTOM LINE: SO frustrating

Genre: Fiction; Family Life
Publication Date: 19 June 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“After the sudden death of his wife, Maida, Gene is haunted by the fear that their marriage was not all it appeared to be. Alongside Ed and Gayle Donnelly, friends since college days, he tries to resurrect happy memories of the times the two couples shared, raising their children in a small New Hampshire town and vacationing together at a lake house every summer. Meanwhile, his daughter, Dary, challenges not only his happy version of the past but also his view of Maida. As a long-standing rift between them deepens, Gene starts to understand how unknown his daughter is to him–and how enigmatic his wife was as well. And a lingering suspicion seizes his mind that could upend everything he thought he knew.

Katharine Dion’s assured debut moves seamlessly between Gene’s present-day journey and the long history of a marriage and friendship. Rich and wonderfully alive, The Dependents is the most moving kind of drama, an intimate glance into the expanse of family life and the way we must all eventually bridge the chasm between what we want to believe and what we know to be true.”

My Thoughts: The Dependents is one of those novels I want to love. The writing is exquisite. The premise sounds interesting with plenty of potential skeletons waiting for their reveal. Plus, I do love a good story that explores marriage and identity when done seriously and not as sappy, “and they all lived happily ever after” women’s fiction.

Except, no matter how excellent the writing, it cannot disguise the fact that nothing happens in The Dependents. There are no secrets. The exploration of marriage and identity proves to be nothing more than one elderly widow questioning his memories upon his wife’s passing, and he never comes to any satisfactory conclusion other than to trust his heart. It is all so frustrating because it could have been (should have been) so much better than it was.

On the one hand, I do not mind that I seemingly wasted my time on a story that went nowhere because Ms. Dion knows how to pen a sentence. Her writing is fluid as well as vivid with an ability to make a sentence bring to life a scene as well as play like music on the ear. This is a wonderful thing to experience and kept me coming back to the book time and again. And yet.

Let’s face it. Even the most beautiful sentences in the world mean nothing if they do not move forward a story. There is only so much you can take of Gene’s grief and reminiscing before you begin to wonder what the point of it all is. I never stopped hoping that one of these gorgeous sentences would result in a bombshell that would shake the story from its ennui. I kept that hope alive until the last sentence of the last paragraph of the last chapter, only to have my hopes dashed and for me to let out a rare cry of frustration at the pointlessness of it all.

The Dependents is a cobbling together of the same old ideas albeit with better-than-average sentence structure and effectiveness. Ms. Dion gives us nothing new when it comes to relationships, nor does she provide any stellar insight into marriage or the idea of identity. Because of her writing skills, I feel like it should have been a profound story, but I finished the novel feeling little to no emotion whatsoever. The wasted potential almost angers me I wanted more than I got and feel that Ms. Dion is capable of so much more than she gave. Hopefully, her next novel proves I am right.

When good authors write disappointing novels

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Genre: Suspense; Thriller; Paranormal Romance; Paranormal Fiction Publication Date: 19 June 2018 Source: Publisher via NetGalley Synopsis from the Publisher: “Best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe share a bond so intense that it borders on the mystical. But before Jon can declare his love for his soul mate, he is kidnapped, his plans for a…

The Completionist feels incomplete

The Completionist by Siobhan Adcock

Genre: Literary; Thriller; Dystopian Publication Date: 19 June 2018 Source: Publisher via Edelweiss Synopsis from the Publisher: “After months of disturbing behavior, Gardner Quinn has vanished. Her older sister Fredericka is desperate to find her, but Fred is also pregnant—miraculously so, in a near-future America struggling with infertility. So she entrusts the job to their…

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 13 August 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button

Hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Here is what I read the week ending 13 August 2018. To learn more about each book, just click on the book cover! I…

Sunday Reflections – 12 August 2018

Sunday Reflections Button

Happy Sunday! It is a hot and sticky one here. It is the type of weather that makes me miss winter because you can always wear extra layers when cold but there is only so much you can do to keep cool in weather like this. Jim is on his way back from Ames after…

Fabulous Friday – 10 August 2018

Fabulous Friday Button

We should always find ways to celebrate the little things in life. What better day to celebrate these little things than the best day of the week? So, here are the things that make this a Fabulous Friday for me this week. ******************** THE WEEKEND – It has been a long week. It started out odd and…

Monday Reflections – 6 August 2018

Sunday Reflections Button

Happy Sunday Monday! This weekend got away from me a bit with tax-free shopping and Holly’s birthday and a meeting for new high school student-athletes and a photo shoot and a company picnic. It was a fun weekend but busy. So, yes, lots of things going on these days. Holly starts her three-week “Prep” camp…

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 6 August 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button

Hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Here is what I read the week ending 6 August 2018. To learn more about each book, just click on the book cover! Finishing…

What’s for Dinner? – Week Starting 28 July 2018

People are forever asking how I manage everything with such a busy schedule. I love to cook, but I don’t always have time to do so in the manner I would like. This weekly journal is a way to keep it real and show that while my intentions are good, sometimes life and all of…

Fabulous Friday – 3 August 2018

Fabulous Friday Button

We should always find ways to celebrate the little things in life. What better day to celebrate these little things than the best day of the week? So, here are the things that make this a Fabulous Friday for me this week. ******************** TAX-FREE WEEKEND – For others, this is nothing new. Here is Wisconsin, a tax-free…