Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: "You or Someone Like You" Chandler Burr

From the Publisher's Website:

Anne Rosenbaum leads a life of quiet Los Angeles privilege, the wife of Hollywood executive Howard Rosenbaum and mother of their seventeen-year-old son, Sam. Years ago Anne and Howard met studying literature at Columbia—she, the daughter of a British diplomat from London, he a boy from an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Now on sleek blue California evenings, Anne attends halogen-lit movie premieres on the arm of her powerful husband. But her private life is lived in the world of her garden, reading books.

When one of Howard's friends, the head of a studio, asks Anne to make a reading list, she casually agrees—though, as a director reminds her, "no one reads in Hollywood." To her surprise, they begin calling: screen-writers; producers, from their bungalows; and agents, from their plush offices on Wilshire and Beverly. Soon Anne finds herself leading an exclusive book club for the industry elite. Emerging gradually from her seclusion, she guides her readers into the ideas and beauties of Donne, Yeats, Auden, and Mamet, with her brilliant and increasingly bold opinions. But when a crisis of identity unexpectedly turns an anguished Howard back toward the Orthodoxy he left behind as a young man, Anne must set out to save what she values above all else: her husband's love.

At once fiercely intelligent and emotionally gripping, You or Someone Like You confronts the fault lines between inherited faith and personal creed, and, through the surprising transformation of one exceptional, unforgettable woman, illuminates literature's power to change our lives.

My Review:

I had high hopes for "You or Someone Like You"; a book about books? I'm sold! Unfortunately, I found myself disappointed. I found the book to be pretentious at times, while it dragged on endlessly at other times. The author seemed to be trying to point out how incredibly intelligent he was by dissecting many classic novels. I'm sure that some people reading this book will disagree with me; one reviewer commented that this book is for anyone who has ever clung to the belief that a book can change our lives. Although I can see how this reviewer could have gotten that from reading the book, I, myself, found that that particular point fell by the wayside.

What I did enjoy about the book was the plot involving the characters of Anne (creator of the book club), Howard (her popular Hollywood husband) and their son Sam. Towards the end of the book the book club starts to play a less prominent role in the book and the complicated relationships between this trio shine through. This was the point at which the book really came together for me. Unfortunately, this only happened a few short chapters before the end.

Ultimately I think that I would have enjoyed it more had the book club scenes been scrapped and the book had focused instead on Anne, Howard, and Sam. Those particular characters were well-developed and very interesting.

Take a moment to browse inside this book! Thank-you to Harper Collins Canada for the review copy.

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