Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer

From the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of The Dive From Clausen's Pier, a sweeping, masterful new novel that explores the secrets and desires, the remnant wounds and saving graces of one California family, over the course of five decades.

Bill Blair finds the land by accident, three wooded acres in a rustic community south of San Francisco. The year is 1954, long before anyone will call this area Silicon Valley. Struck by a vision of the family he has yet to create, Bill buys the property on a whim. In Penny Greenway he finds a suitable wife, a woman whose yearning attitude toward life seems compelling and answerable, and they marry and have four children. Yet Penny is a mercurial housewife, at a time when women chafed at the conventions imposed on them. She finds salvation in art, but the cost is high.

Thirty years later, the three oldest Blair children, adults now and still living near the family home, are disrupted by the return of the youngest, whose sudden presence and all-too-familiar troubles force a reckoning with who they are, separately and together, and set off a struggle over the family's future. One by one, the siblings take turns telling the story--Robert, a doctor like their father; Rebecca, a psychiatrist; Ryan, a schoolteacher; and James, the malcontent, the problem child, the only one who hasn't settled down-their narratives interwoven with portraits of the family at crucial points in their history.


Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Scribner 
arc - netgalley
** 1/2  

I finished this book about a week ago and just needed to collect my thoughts on this one.  I didn't check reviews until I finished which has left me somewhat perplexed, wondering what/if I missed something here.

The story was okay but at times I made myself read it.  Intially I figured I'd connect with Penny, mom to 4 kids and has a thing for artsy crafty stuff. (I got 4 kids and like crafts too).  I didn't even get the impression that she even liked her kids, which made it very difficult to feel any empathy for her and the rest of the family.

The book is divided into sections which told the POV from each of the 6 characters here (ma, pa and 4 adult children).  It was more a telling of the story rather than showing which I think is where it fell flat for me.  Lacking in emotion and feeling.

There are some out there that loved this book, but for me it's  2 1/2 stars. 

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