We’re seeing red here at 5 Minutes for Books. This is review one of two by Jennifer Donovan. You can find the review of The Little Red Book of Wisdom and the prize winners from last week’s reviews here.
Most of my reading of late has been non-fiction, so it was with a sweet anticipation that I cracked open Woman in Red by Eileen Goudge. It did not disappoint. I was immediately transported into Alice’s world as she leaves prison after serving a nine year sentence for the violent act she perpetrated against the man who killed her son in a car accident, after he got off scot-free. She has become estranged from her son, now a teenager, but she returns to the island to salvage the relationship in spite of knowing that she will be on the receiving end of small-town gossip and raised eyebrows. When he is falsely accused of rape, they rally together.
Alice’s ability to navigate the waters of creating a new life for herself while trying to come to grips with the life that her choices created for her makes a great story. Another interesting feature in this book is the flashbacks looking at her grandmother’s life in the 1940’s. She is the Woman in Red who was once the subject of an artist’s best and least-displayed work. Mystery surrounds both the painter and the painting. Who was this woman? What was their relationship? As the story unravels, many of the novel’s characters are eventually tied together in a series of surprising twists. I have to say that I wish the cover were different. I’m not sure that it would cause me to pick up this novel. The cover art isn’t as I imagine the painting to be, and doesn’t convey the subject as she’s depicted in the novel. Fortunately, I did not judge this book by its cover.
I had never read one of Eileen Goudge’s novels, but this was a keeper. The characters are original yet believable. There are authors whom I know will delight me again and again, but there is always something slightly predictable about the author’s style. Finding a new author is even more of a treat than just reading a new good novel, because in addition to enjoying the story, I’m discovering a new voice. I will now look forward to figuring out the pattern of her style as I read more of her novels. I would rate this PG overall, but there’s one intimate scene that is probably PG-13 (see ratings info here).
The publisher has donated TEN copies of this hardcover book so that some lucky readers can discover Woman in Red for themselves. Please leave a comment if you are interested. The winners must provide a shipping address in Canada or the United States.