Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: At The End of The Day

Summary: All is not what it seems. Or at least that’s what Frank Ravenelle thinks. A beleaguered postman with a hobby of reading other’s mail, Frank lives his life vicariously through the people on his route, at times envious or bewildered, but always shocked by the immorality that has been creeping along the shady streets of his postal route.  At least his life is untouched by scandal. 

Or is it? 

Set on a wintry Saturday, At The End of The Day unveils the lives of five seemingly normal people, who each at his core, is riddled with tumors of doubt, self-loathing and jealousy. -- Sunbury Press

I feel obligated to begin my review for AT THE END OF THE DAY by Madelyn Killion by saying that I do know the author. Madelyn and I both live in the same town and occasionally bump into each other; however, I wouldn't say we are close friends. When she asked me to review her debut novel AT THE END OF THE DAY, I naturally agreed, first and foremost, because I was anxious to read it. Plus I thought it would be nice to feature her book on my blog. Like me, Madelyn is a stay-at-home mom, and I'm extremely happy for her that she's able to live her dream as a published author.

AT THE END OF THE DAY is a pretty dark story about five individuals who are keeping some very big secrets. First is Frank, a postman who is obsessed with reading his clients' mail. He has taken to hanging out by himself in his basement, and he almost finds comfort in following their lives and discovering their indiscretions. Despite breaking the law, Frank is content with his job and feels almost smug given his scandal-free life. That is, until his job is threatened along with everything else he's taken for granted.

I admit I was a little nervous to read AT THE END OF THE DAY, but I promised Madelyn (and myself) that I would be honest in my review. I will say that, overall, I liked AT THE END OF THE DAY. I actually thought the premise was very original and I was extremely impressed with many aspects of Madelyn's storytelling. This novel was a quick read for me (it's actually probably a novella), and I think that's a testament to the author's ability to create an intriguing cast of characters. I think it's a promising debut and I sincerely hope that Madelyn continues to follow her passion and write additional stories.

One thing that stood out to me about this novel were the characters. I mentioned earlier that they all were living their lives while hiding some major secrets. While Frank was hiding things at his job, others were hiding far darker secrets like adultery and even worse! I really appreciated how Madelyn developed these characters and I liked that I was surprised a few times by their behavior. Having said that, I didn't really like any of them -- and one in particular made me sick. I realize it's not necessary to like the characters to appreciate a story, but I wish I had felt more compassion towards them. I just felt like they were a little too distant.

I also was impressed with much of the writing in AT THE END OF THE DAY. Madelyn had some fantastic moments with her prose, and I found many of her descriptions to be lovely. However, I think it was how this book came together -- how the characters' lives were intertwined and how their secrets were revealed -- that I appreciated the most. There is no doubt that this novel is pretty sad and explores some of the darker sides of human nature, yet I was intrigued by these characters. I was curious about how the events would play out, and their stories definitely kept me turning the pages.

AT THE END OF THE DAY would make an interesting book club selection. I actually have a friend whose group read it and invited Madelyn to discuss. I bet it was a great time because I always appreciate hearing the author discuss the inspiration for the story as well as his or her impressions of the characters. I do think the novel has potential for an exciting discussion especially since the characters are so damaged. I don't want to give away too much about their secrets, but some of the themes you might want to explore include marriage, adultery, secrets, trust, parent/child relationships, forgiveness, guilt, loss, jealousy, and self-loathing.

I enjoyed AT THE END OF THE DAY and I'm extremely happy that a stay-at-home mom is fulfilling her dreams!

Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel.


Beth F said...

Very nicely written review. It's always such a tricky thing reviewing a book written by a friend or acquaintance. Sounds like there'd be a lot to discuss at a book club.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Sounds too sad for me, but like it would make a good discussion book!

bermudaonion said...

It sounds like this author has a promising future! It sounds like this book is well worth reading.

Ali said...

I always find it fun to read a book by an author I know, but difficult to review it. Nice job!