Author: Leslie Hall Pinder
Paperback: 330 pages (ARC version)
Publisher: Grey Swan Press
Published date: February 2012
FTC: Received from Kelley & Hall to review
Oh man. I hardly ever do this. I did not finish this book. I'm 160 pages into it and I'm just struggling. Don't get me wrong: Leslie Hall Pinder is a wonderful writer, poetical, and often there are quotes that I just love. However. I'm just not engrossed. I really really wanted to love this one or at least enjoy it. Alas.
The synopsis (from Kelley & Hall):
Bring Me One of Everything is a novel which weaves real-life facts and fiction into an eloquent tale of suspense and intrigue. The title of the book is based on what the management of the Smithsonian is said to have demanded when sending ethnographers to native villages to gather artifacts for its collection: “Bring me one of everything.”
The novel is several layered stories centered around a troubled writer, Alicia Purcell, who has been commissioned to create the libretto for an opera about an anthropologist named Austin Hart. He earned fame in the 1950s for cutting down and bringing back to museums the largest remaining stand of totem poles in the world. They belonged to the Haida tribes who inhabit the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia. Hart’s subsequent suicide creates the mystery Alicia attempts to solve as she consults present-day tribe members, Hart’s friends and family, and his personal journals. Added to the complications of her search are Alicia’s imperious though ailing mother, a cast-off lover, a narcissistic composer, and her own demons of disaffection. But an overarching question dogs her and the reader: why she is so obsessed with Austin Hart and this quest?
When I first went to college my dream job/goal/thing was to be an archaeologist. After a concerned parent advised me that the job market was probably lacking in need of archaeologists, I majored in probably an even less job market degree - history. O well. I did take a few anthropology classes anyway and loved them. So take my interesting in anthropology, throw in the ethical problems faced by anthropologists and museums, and add a mysterious suicide...sounds like an interesting and intriguing story!
But I'm just not engrossed. The writing is quite beautiful, the idea is very interesting, even Margaret Atwood wrote a blurb for the cover. And I love Margaret Atwood.
My problems is maybe that I just can't grasp the character of Alicia Purcell. At the beginning of the story Alicia Prucell is just 19 years old or so and up and decides to kill herself. There's really no rhyme or reason -- and obviously she doesn't in the end because, well there'd be no story if she did.
Fast forward years later. She's never been married, never had kids, it seems never really opened up to anyone. Then she dumps her boyfriend and goes to help out her mom (who she also doesn't have a good relationship with) who is sick. She's also asked to write the libretto for a new opera about Austin Hart's life and what drove him to suicide. She then becomes completely engrossed in Hart's life and death.
While an intriguing plot and actually good writing, my main problems were that I just couldn't quite care enough for her character. There was really nothing in her character that made me want to know what happened next. That's a problem for me. I need to care for the characters and I just couldn't. I couldn't get engrossed. I kept reading a chapter or two and then putting the book down for days and always finding reasons not to pick it back up. So I decided to stop.
****Does this book sound interesting to you? If you are a book blogger and would like to check this one out I'd be happy to send it on. I'd love to see if someone else has a different reaction.
The trailer for the book is pretty cool. Check it out: