Losing Charlotte by Heather Clay
Publication Date: March 2010
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Format: Hardcover, 272 pp
(Received for review from Knopf Doubleday)
Synopsis (Courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
Raised on their parents' Kentucky horse farm, Charlotte and Knox Bolling grow up steeped in the cycles of breeding, foaling, weaning, and preparation for sale that the Thoroughbreds around them undergo each year. As sisters, they are as tightly connected within that vast and beautiful landscape as their opposing natures-and the subtly shifting allegiances within their close family-allow.
When Charlotte leaves Four Corners Farm, marries Bruce, and moves to Manhattan's West Village, the sisters' feelings for each other remain as intense and contradictory as ever, despite the distance between them. But nothing will solder their lives more fatefully than Charlotte's pregnancy and day on which she delivers twin boys, then dies of complications following their birth.
Together, Knox and Bruce - sister- and brother-in-law in name, but strangers in every other respect - take up the work of caring for Charlotte's two motherless boys. In their mourning, and in the joy and desolation that flood in as their love for the children deepens, Bruce and Knox confront the ways in which their bonds to Charlotte have shaped them and struggle to define the tentative bond they are forming with each other as they navigate their exhausting, emotional daily rounds. A gripping, powerfully affecting debut novel from a stunning new writer.
There were parts of this book that I liked and parts that I didn't. I liked the premise of the book. Two sisters, very different, one goes of to New York and gets married, the other stays on the farm. They both lead very different lives and don't spend very much time together since they have opposing views on just about everything in life.
When Charlotte dies during childbirth, her husband Bruce is beside himself for what to do. It's time for her sister Knox to step in help him care for his twin boys. Both Bruce and Knox had very different relationships with Charlotte, their bonds created in very different way. As they begin to have feelings for each other they have to decide if what they feel is right or not?
My problem with it stemmed from the characters themselves. I really wanted to like Bruce and I did to a point. I liked the idea that he stepped up and took his responsibilities seriously. He started caring for the boys and didn't distance himself emotionally. But his character was kind of flat. He didn't have a lot of pizazz. Even when he's falling for Knox, he just didn't seem that excited about it. Knox is interesting, well not exactly. She seems like she'd be interesting. Seems like I should like her, because shes doing something so noble, taking care of her sisters kids. But, I didn't. She just didn't do it for me. She was bland and kind of catty and not too fun.
The one character I did like was mostly talked about as an after thought, seen in flash backs and really wasn't a part of the story, Charlotte. She really seemed like someone I would have liked. I was kind of disappointed that we didn't get to learn more about her. Don't get me wrong, the book was pretty good. I did finish it and I liked it, but it just wasn't what I was expecting. I just figured it would be a lot more romantic than it turned out to be.
The book is well written. It's a quick read. It's kind on the sad side, but it gets better as you read it. But don't expect a whirl wind romance. The book ends in a very open ended kind of way. There may be a sequel perhaps. Not too sure with this one. This is one you might want to check out from the library before you make a decision on whether you want it in your permanent collection. I think it was a good first effort for Heather Clay and I expect we will see better things as her career takes off.
Losing Charlotte is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 3 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Heather Clay is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University's School of the Arts. She has published short fiction in The New Yorker's debut fiction issue and written for Parenting magazine. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two daughters. This is her first novel.