The Bookends – October 2017

in a dark, dark wood
By Ruth Ware

Twenty-six year old Nora receives an unexpected invitation to an old friend’s hen do ( a British bachelorette party). Nora hasn’t spoken to Clare in ten years so ignores the email for a few days. Why would Claire, a childhood friend include Nora in her prenuptial party? Nina, a mutual friend is the only other familiar name on the list and the two make a pact to attend this event together. After hours of driving to the countryside, they arrive at a modern glass walled house in a dark wooded area. The cell reception is poor, there is no internet or landline and the other guests seem to feel equally uncomfortable. Forty-eight hours later Nora wakes up in a hospital bed. Badly bruised and bloody, with no memory of what happened.

BECKY Reese Witherspoon is developing this book into a movie. How do you think this story will play out on the big screen?

PAM I had not heard about this becoming a movie! With the quirky characters and the dark twists and turns, this could be great on the big screen. When Nora makes the decision to attend the hen, she leaves her quiet and orderly life behind and delves back into the drama that she left many years ago. She hopes to determine why Clare would want her to attend the hen when she has not been invited to the wedding. Nora is nervous about seeing her old friends and meeting new people and struggles with her past. Were you able to relate to Nora as the author introduced the reader to her?

BECKY Nora was an interesting character. From the beginning we see that she is a bit of a recluse and prefers her quiet lifestyle. There is also a hint that she has some baggage from the past. As interesting as this sounds I didn’t connect to her quickly. I think that this will play out much better in the theater with an actress to give us some visual connection to this character. However, as the story progresses I found myself connecting to her and caring about her story. Yet I couldn’t understanding her desire to go away for the weekend to celebrate with someone she hasn’t spoken to in ten years? Maybe a lunch but a whole weekend! The story slowly unfolds as we meet a curious group of ‘friends’ that share this weekend celebration. Do you feel like all the characters were developed well or was it just the top few?

PAM I completely agree, Becky! I felt that it wasn’t very plausible that a recluse like Nora that had put her past behind her would agree to this weekend with new and old acquaintances in a place she had never been. There was not as much character development as I typically like in a story, especially for a couple of the new acquaintances. Do you think the author did this purposefully to try to create a feeling of unease and mystery for this suspenseful story?

BECKY It’s possible that was the author’s intent but it missed the mark for me. I enjoyed the book but I did not find it to be a scary story, as Reese Witherspoon suggests. It was a good mystery and once again, I think that with the right acting it could play out very well in the theater. The first chapter starts out with Nora in the hospital with no recollection of the weekend. Did the beginning pull you into the story?

PAM I was quickly pulled into the mystery, although I struggled to connect to Nora and felt that parts of the story weren’t very plausible. I still found that I wanted to unravel the story and discover what really happened that night. I agree with you, Becky. I would not call this a scary story, but a mysterious one. Did you feel that the beginning, with Nora unable to remember, added to the air of mystery?

BECKY I like that we didn’t go through a few chapters of fluff to lead up to the inevitable discovery of a murder mystery. However, with that style of writing we miss out on some character development. It could have been accomplished in the alternate chapters that focus on the past but the characters stay one dimensional. It is a good, quick read but it didn’t keep me up at night to finish the last few pages like The Black-Eyed Susans, by Julia Heaberlin. Ruth Ware has a book that is recently released, would you consider reading this author again?

PAM I would consider reading another work by this author if the story line grabbed me, but with the understanding that I probably wouldn’t be seriously invested in the characters. We will explore another mystery next month, but one that is sure to take us on a very different journey. Jillian Cantor takes us back to 1938 and 1989, as we unravel the mystery of an old love letter that connects generations in her book, “The Lost Letter.”

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