Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Piece of Paris

by Stephanie Black

I’m a lousy book reviewer. When I review something on Goodreads, it’s usually with one line—“Great mystery! Creepy!” I’m not skilled at whipping out insightful and intelligent comments on a book. It takes me forever to come up with something to say, and I really admire people who are good at reviewing. Good reviewers have skills, or possibly magic powers. I have . . . the ability to procrastinate by reading other people’s blogs while I’m supposed to be writing a review (Heather Moore has a great piece on her blog discussing her writing journey, by the way.)

But I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of GG Vandagriff’s Pieces of Paris, which means I’m going to review it, so here it is: “Beautifully written! Exciting!” See you next week!

Ahem. Okay, fine. I guess I should make more of an effort or I’ll never be able to get my paws on another review book again (somewhere there’s a list, you see, and my name will be on it. Don’t send a book to her, it will say. She’ll only write one line and then she’ll meander off into a story about how her six-year-old has a cow every time there’s a Cheerio on the table. Cheerios are more feared around here than the boogeyman).

Anyway, here we go: first off, Pieces of Paris has a gorgeous cover. Don’t you love it? It has a gorgeous cover and an extremely talented author: GG Vandagriff is both a skilled and versatile writer. Her epic historical novel, The Last Waltz, won a Whitney Award in 2009. She is also the author of the Alex and Briggie mystery series; the sixth book in the series, The Hidden Branch, was released last fall. She also co-authored the book Deliverance from Depression: Finding Hope and Healing Through the Atonement of Christ.

Pieces of Paris
is in yet another genre—women’s fiction, or, for Whitney purposes, we’ll call it general fiction. Annalise is living with her husband Dennis and her son Jordan in a tiny rural town when flashbacks from her past begin to torment her, threatening to wreck both her peace of mind and her marriage. Before marrying Dennis, Annalise was passionately in love with a troubled, brilliant musician named Jules. The relationship ended so traumatically that Annalise coped by shutting it out of her mind, and cutting herself off from the music she associated with Jules. She started a new life with Dennis, a handsome, idealistic crusader searching for a paradise he thinks he’s found in the Ozark mountains. This strategy works for a few years—until her past begins to fight its way to the surface.

Dennis, who thought his wife was the epitome of calm and steady, is unnerved by the moody, tearful, unpredictable woman Annalise has become as she struggles to cope with vivid flashbacks of her life with Jules—a part of Annalise that Dennis knows nothing about. Her struggles force him to examine his own attitudes and expectations as he realizes he has cast Annalise into a role where perhaps she doesn’t fit. Annalise has to face up to the fact that, as a doctor and friend explains to her, the only way to get past her pain is to go through it. She needs to face what happened with Jules, and she needs to open up to Dennis about her past. It’s a difficult process for both of them.

I like the way Annalise and Dennis are both deep, rounded characters. Dennis has his own past and his own problems—he’s fighting against a company that has contaminated the soil with toxic waste, a quest that puts him in danger as someone works to deter him from pursuing the matter. Annalise and Dennis are both facing some difficult growth in their characters and in their relationship. I didn’t get much done the morning when I was finishing the book because I was eager to find out how it ended.

Pieces of Paris is a compelling, multi-layered novel. It was published by Shadow Mountain, Deseret Book’s national-market imprint. It has no specifically LDS content, but general Christian beliefs are important to the resolution of the story. Visit GG Vandagriff’s website here.


At 10/13/2010 3:10 PM, Blogger Mr Lonely said...

nice blog.. have a view of my blog when free.. .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

At 10/14/2010 11:15 AM, Blogger Michael Knudsen said...

I have yet to read a G.G.Vandagriff book, but this makes me curious. Your review worked, Stephanie! By the way, you are on my LIST to get a review copy of my book (The Rogue Shop, due out Dec. 8th) if you'll have it.

At 10/14/2010 2:00 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

:) Aww, Michael, you're so sweet! Thanks!


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