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Shifting Sands

Being Anti-SocialBeing Anti-Social by Leigh K. Cunningham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book over a few days while doing my daily 10km walk on the treadmill. I found the writing style to be quite formal and precise, which is unusual for this “chick lit” genre. The novel lacked the upbeat, humorous style suggested by the cover. I am neutral about this book -neither loving nor despising it. The plot centers around a two year period in the life of a woman on the brink of 40 in which she and members of her large family and friendship circle experience major life changes.

I found it difficult to visualize some of the characters or remember who they were-especially the men. Finally I realised this is because none of the character are adequately described in terms of appearance, dress, speech or mannerisms. We know the main character drinks and eats too much, has dyed auburn hair and is of medium height but not much else. Cunningham tells us Amber looks like “Elle Mc Pherson” but I find this manner of describing characters to be a little lazy and irrelevant to readers who do not follow the reference.

Cunningham’s narrator, Mace, takes the time to explain the meaning of the term “pun” and also re-tells the story of the rabbit and the tar baby. I am old enough to know what a pun is and also the story of the tar baby. This suggests Cunningham (or her editor) expects her readers may not understand her references so feels the need to explain them. Maybe Cunningham’s genre is more serious, literary novels rather than light hearted chick lit. She is a skilled writer and no doubt capable of writing a more literary novel. The crisp quality of her prose (which I enjoyed) was wasted on the prosaic and at times cliched subject matter. I felt the author had a lot more to say on the universal themes of love, loss and betrayal but was held back by the constraints of the genre. I will be interested to see what Ms Cunningham does next.

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