Monday, January 17, 2011

Cleaning Nabokov’s House

Cleaning Nabokov's House: A NovelAuthor: Leslie Daniels
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9502-4
Publisher: Touchstone
Release: March 2011
Source: Author Exposure

Barb, a 39 year old mother of two, recently divorced and finds herself without custody of her children due to her un-charming ex-person. After living out of her car, Barb stumbles upon a house she loves and makes a down payment with funds her late father left her. The house happens to be the former residence of a famous author. While cleaning on afternoon Barb finds a hidden manuscript and begins the process of publication thought speculation varies in belief that the manuscript was written by Nabokov himself. When Barb is awakened from herself pity, she chooses to fight for custody of her children. This path sets her on the road to parenthood, thought it is very questionable in its methods and ironic in its ability to ruin her. In the end publication, parenthood and love are all possibilities if she will take the risk.

“Cleaning Nabokov’s House” was quite a different type of novel in regards to its story line. Although unique, the interest level and slow pace took away from its originality for me. I had a hard time getting into this odd story. I was unable to connect with the main character who obviously was depressed about losing her children, yet did absolutely nothing to fight for them until her only friend calls her out on her moping and complaining. I also did not find any depth to the other characters of this novel. The ex-person, as Barb calls him was quite annoying and unattractive. His attitude as a father seemed more self serving than interested in his children’s welfare. The sub characters were the most loveable but were not as much of an influence to make up for the main characters pit falls.

In addition the story takes a weird turn when she decides to fight for her children and starts checking off the list of “to do’s” in order for the court to take her seriously. One of these items is a job, yet her business plan is one that could, and in real life would, ruin her attempt at custody. The novel didn’t have a realistic feel to it. The writing style of the book was easy to read despite the slow pace. It flowed easily and the author was able to guide the reader efficiently. My level of interest in this novel would have been increased if it was not so depressing and gloomy. I felt misguided by the quotes of praise on the cover as I didn’t find the novel funny. It is a novel of deep pain and emotional healing that ends in unexpected love and devotion.

Overall the novel has a good length with an interesting theme that could have been developed with better character traits, dialogue and pace. The setting was unique and fitting while certain elements were odd and unsettling to me as a reader. While I understand the outcome and overall point of the novel, it was hard to follow the point while reading the book. The story seemed to jump around and not really land or connect until the very end. The author has great potential with this debut, I hope to see her next novel a little less scattered and a little more grounded. My thoughts landed me right in middle ground with this novel. I didn’t love it, yet I didn’t hate it. I must include I enjoyed the cover art that has been released since my receipt of this ARC, it is fitting.


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