Monday, July 20, 2009

Review: Dune Road

Summary: Set in Connecticut’s tony Gold Coast town of Highfield, Dune Road tells the story of Kit Hargrove, whose divorce has granted her a new lease on life. No longer a Wall Street Widow, with the requisite diamond studs and Persian rugs, Kit revels in her clapboard Cape with the sea-green shutters and sprawling impatiens. Her kids are content, her ex cooperative, her friends steadfast, and each morning she wakes up unable to believe how lucky she is to have landed the job of her dreams: assisting the blockbuster novelist Robert McClore.

A mysterious tragedy drove this famous writer into seclusion decades ago, and few besides Kit are granted access to his house at the top of Dune Road, with its breathtaking views of Long Island Sound. But all that is about to change. At a rare appearance at the local bookstore, McClore meets Kit’s new friend Tracy, whose weakness for older men rivals her powers of self-reinvention. Are the secret visits of her boss’s new muse as innocent as Kit would like to believe? When a figure from her mother’s past emerges with equally cryptic intentions, just as the bear financial market is upending her best friend’s life, Kit discovers her blissfully constructed idyll—and the gorgeous man who has walked into it with creamy white roses—isn’t as perfect as she’d thought. Ties to friends and family are farther reaching than she had realized—and more crucial than ever before.

Warm, witty and gloriously observed, Dune Road is Jane Green at her best, full of brilliant insights into challenges that come with forging a new life. -- Viking

I am a pretty big Jane Green fan, so I was really looking forward to her latest novel DUNE ROAD. I wanted to be able to write this review and say that I absolutely loved it, but I just can't. I liked the book okay, but it didn't resonate with me the way some of her earlier books did. I guess I'd have to say that it's a good summer read, but it's probably not a book that's going to stick with me for very long.

I think my biggest problem with DUNE ROAD was that I didn't really relate to any of the characters. To be totally honest, a lot of characters in the book got on my nerves at times, especially Kit. Don't get me wrong, I did feel bad for Kit because her marriage ended; however, I thought her ideas of love and marriage were very warped and she came across for most of the book as being extremely selfish. That's not to say that she wasn't a good person -- she was just very self-centered and oblivious. I was also rather annoyed by Kit's friend Charlie. When she and her husband lost their entire fortune, she totally blamed him. I guess that's kind of natural, but she didn't seem to even wonder if she was at fault as well. I guess all of her shopping expenditures were her husband's fault too.

Not all of the characters in this book were annoying -- there were actually a few characters that I did really like. One in particular was Kit's neighbor Edie. She was a wonderful mentor to Kit and provided a lot of funny moments in the story. She was supportive of Kit and acted as a mother-figure; however, she wasn't afraid to tell Kit exactly what she thought. Like many older women, she had a lot of life experiences and her advice sure seemed to make a lot of sense to me.

I know I sound like I had a lot of gripes about this book, but it really is a good story. I especially liked how the book ended. Everything pretty much worked out for all of the "main" characters; and as far as I'm concerned, that's what I want when I read these types of stories -- happy endings. I actually really appreciated the evolution of Kit's character, and she did redeem herself in my eyes. In fact, I even marked a passage towards the end of the book because it is something my husband and I wholeheartedly believe.

"Loving, she realizes is a verb. It is an act. It is not enough to say you love someone, and then forget about them, or trust a relationship will stay strong simply because you share a house or children or a life.

Loving requires acts of love. It requires thinking of your spouse, doing things for them to make them happy. It requires acting in loving ways, even when you are tired, or bogged down with work, or so stressed you are waking up every night with a sore jaw from grinding your teeth."

I'm sure that you could find lots of things to discuss if you read DUNE ROAD for your book club, and it would probably be a terrific meeting. I couldn't find any discussion questions for the book, but some topics you could discuss include: mother/daughter relationships, financial security, marriage, new beginnings, parenting, trust, and self-awareness. I actually think DUNE ROAD might be an ideal book for women in their 30s and 40s to read because I'm pretty sure that you will recognize people you know in these characters.

Jane Green is a favorite author of mine and I definitely recommend reading some of her earlier books. Ms. Green has a pretty cool website where you can learn more about all of her novels. She actively maintains a blog, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that she includes some fantastic-looking recipes. You can also check out the locations for her DUNE ROAD book tour.

As a little aside, when I was on Ms. Green's website I noticed that DUNE ROAD was released in England with a different name -- GIRL FRIDAY. I actually didn't love the title of DUNE ROAD, and I do think GIRL FRIDAY is much more interesting and meaningful! I also liked the British cover a little better too! What do you think?


bermudaonion said...

I'm glad to see you like Jane Green's work since I just got The Beach House. Sorry this one wasn't your favorite.

Kelly said...

It's always disappointing to have high hopes for a book and then think...meh....after reading it!

Kaye said...

Wow, this could be my review ( which I haven't and probably won't write) for Dorothea Benton Frank's
latest book. I am a devoted fan but Return to Sullivan's Island is a "meh". Like you, I couldn't relate to most of the characters and the main one made me crazy. I wanted to shake her and say smarten up, for crying out loud! You should know better.

Pam said...

Aw, I'm sorry it was a disappointment. It sounds like there were some good points, though. I do like the UK cover and title better. I wonder why they changed it?

Beth F said...

Thanks for the honest review. I will definitely read Green's books, but I'll start with something else.

Anna said...

Sorry you didn't like this one as much as her others. It's hard when you can't relate to the characters.

Diary of an Eccentric

ANovelMenagerie said...

That sucks. I just finished The Beach House and really enjoyed it. (I wrote my review but it's yet to be posted). I am bummed to hear this one isn't as good.


Erika Robuck said...

I'm intrigued. I've never read a Jane Green, but I think I'll pick up this one.

Serena said...

Generally I enjoy books about writers. I haven't ever read Jane Green, but I think I might start with another of her books, since Kit annoyed you.