Book Talk: Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

Two central characters, Nantucket-dwellers with some baggage:

1) Olivia, recently separated from her husband after the death of her son, and
2) Beth, recently separated from her husband after he cheated on her.

Maybe it’s because I’m a middle-aged woman at heart, but the premise held some promise for me. Strong women overcoming obstacles is kind of my favorite theme (other than horses), so this could have had a lot going for it. I was disappointed.

Genova aptly pulls the reader into Olivia and Beth’s loneliness – we recognize and can identify the sadness that pervades their respective stories. Neither character is annoyingly self-pitying; we do genuinely want them to get back on their feet. While Olivia and Beth both have semi-interesting storylines, their relationships with the people around them are never filled out. We spend so much time in their heads, reliving the past, that there is little to ground us in the present.

The novel relies on the hook and the reader’s guilty curiosity to find out more about Anthony’s death and Jimmy’s betrayal. Once we find this all out about a third of the way through the book, nothing much else is going on. We expect Beth and Olivia’s lives to overlap; that they will become friends is practically guaranteed. However, the way it unravels is so far out of field, so unbelievable, it sideswiped me.

That Beth would unintentionally write a novel from Anthony’s point of view – including details of his life that nobody could ever guess at accurately – felt like a cheap way out, rather than an inspiring spiritual development. (Sidenote: the excerpts of Beth’s writing are really terrible – nobody would actually like or read that novel.) It’s hard to rejoice that they’ve both moved forward with their lives when you’re still reeling over the whole unexpected, supernatural, maybe-Anthony-is-making-contact-with-Earth-from-heaven element. As a result, the one literary element we depended upon falls short: the women’s redemption.

All in all, I was incredibly confused by this one. Bummer.

Book: Love Anthony
Author:  Lisa Genova
Type: Sappy drama from acclaimed author of Still Alice

What do you think? Let me know below!

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