Charmaine Gordon: Once Again, Now
Publishing (Trade Paperback), ISBN 0972485384
Where have we seen her? My Internet search revealed that Gordon worked with Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, appeared on several soap operas including All My Children, and served as a stand-in for vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro's legs in a commercial.
According to Keene Publishing's online hype, this first-time novelist "took a few writing classes to polish her skills, joined a local writers group, and began with a simple two-page short story." Voila, her two-pages grew to a 330 page novel of love and loss and love again.
Touted as the older woman's role model, Gordon penned her first novel after the age of 50. Her main character, Kate Harris, a 59-year-old widow, shares many similarities with the author.
Kate throws off the shroud of mourning and rejoins the world with whirlwind speed following the death of her husband of forty years. On her first outing, a friend's mixer, she meets mystery man Max and hops in bed with him. Before you can say "Bob's your uncle," she marries the guy. We still don't know much about Max except that he is good in bed, his life-defining moments happened in Israel while in the military, and he owns a business based upon high-tech security -- and makes a fetish of it too.
Max adores his new wife and wants nothing more than to "take care of" Kate. She on the other hand enjoys her release from a stifling marriage and wants to take the bit in her teeth and run with it.
This novel, classified as women's literature, follows a woman's search to find her self, her independence and love.
Sadly, the writing does not stand up to the storyline's demands. Holes appear in the plot, the logic and the characters. The prose struggles, plods and rarely flows smoothly. Descriptions weary rather than enlighten readers. Dialogue often seems stilted and most of the characters sound alike.
Her main character comes off as self-centered, vain, and shallow -- dismissing her forty year marriage with hardly a shed tear. She sells the family home without consulting her children, who continue to mourn their father. She barely acknowledges the step-daughter's pregnancy, writing it more as an aside than as a defining moment.
The glitches and flaws may reflect the author's lack of training or writing experience. Perhaps one writing class was not enough to polish this manuscript, or perhaps the author could have taken one more go at it before declaring it finished.
Max came across as a flawed, yet remarkable and interesting character. If only the other elements of the book rose to the same level as Max.
I fought my way through the amateurish problems and found nuggets that reflect a storyteller in the making. I hope Gordon finds a mentor, tutor or signs up for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Then I look forward to her next effort.
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