Tuesday, March 13, 2012
World-renowned artist and sharp-tongued wit Clementine Pritchard has decided that she's done. After flushing away a medicine cabinet full of prescriptions, she gives herself thirty days to tie up loose ends—finish one last painting, make nice with her ex-husband, and find a home for her cat. Clementine plans to spend the month she has left in a swirl of art-world parties, manic work sessions, and outrageous acts—but what she doesn't expect is to uncover secrets surrounding the tragedy that befell her mother and sister. In an ending no one sees coming, will we lose Clementine or will we find her?
A bold debut from an exciting new voice, Losing Clementine is a wonderfully entertaining and poignant novel about unanticipated self-discovery that features one of the most irresistible, if deeply flawed, characters to grace contemporary fiction in years.-- William Morrow
The description of LOSING CLEMENTINE by Ashley Ream most definitely piqued my interest. A woman who decides that she's going to kill herself in a month's time, and the story of her last 30 days. Maybe I'm just morbid, but I was extremely curious.. not only about Clementine, but all whether the author could even pull off this story. I really didn't know what to expect and I have to say that LOSING CLEMENTINE entertained me and even managed to surprise me -- in a good way.
LOSING CLEMENTINE tells the story of Clementine Pritchard, an acclaimed artist who has decided that it's time for her to end her life. She is tired of taking a huge assortment of pills just to get her through the day, so she begins to plan her demise. She finishes up her last major painting and finds a home for her cat, but she also tries to resolve some of the relationships in her life including the one with her ex-husband. In addition, Clementine attempts to reconcile her mother and sister's deaths, and as a result, she finds herself uncovering some other secrets about her past which ultimately lead Clementine towards a path of self-discovery.
LOSING CLEMENTINE is Ms. Ream's fiction debut, and I'd say overall she did a very good job. I appreciated her writing style and the way she presented Clementine's story. The novel is written in chapters starting with Day 30 and continues to count down each day until Clementine's planned suicide date (I know, sounds pretty crazy, right?); and it totally worked. In addition, the story is told in Clementine's voice, and she's one heck of a character. Needless to say, she's unstable but she's also smart and extremely witty; and the author managed to create a very memorable character -- one that will stay in my thoughts for some time.
This book did manage to surprise me in a few ways, and that's probably why I enjoyed it as much as I did. First of all, the book was really funny. I was hoping that a book about suicide and mental illness wouldn't be too much of a drag, and it definitely wasn't. In fact, the author managed to infuse a great deal of humor into an otherwise dark story; and I even found myself laughing at times when I wasn't expecting to. However, this book also had some other pretty big plot surprises that appeared towards the end. I am trying to be very careful so as not to give away too much of the story, but there was a little twist and the end that managed to catch me off guard (although in hindsight, I possibly could have figured it out, but that's easy to say now.) I also thought the ending itself (and by that I mean the last few pages of the novel) was a little different than what I was expecting and actually open to interpretation.
LOSING CLEMENTINE would make for a very interesting discussion. I'm not entirely sure that everyone will be comfortable reading a funny book about suicide and mental illness though, so keep that in mind when selecting it. It probably goes without saying that Clementine is an extremely complex character and hours could be spent assessing her mental state and her behavior. There is also a reading guide available with eighteen questions. Some of the topics you might want to discuss include family dynamics, mental illness, depression, suicide, artistic temperaments, guilt, self-discovery, and forgiveness. You can also discuss the symbolism of Clementine's art, the role of good in the novel as, well as what happened after the last page of the book.
I was surprised in so many ways by LOSING CLEMENTINE and I definitely recommend it to fans of women's fiction and readers who enjoy dark, yet funny, stories.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.