Mini Book Reviews: Universal Harvester by John Darnielle and On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux (February 7, 2017)
214 pages, Kindle Edition
Advance copy provided by publisher
When I requested a copy of this novel, I really had no idea what to expect; I'd read a description in a post by Shannon at River City Reading, earlier this year, and it sounded intriguing. In addition, it sounded a little outside of my usual fare, and I love to throw in a couple of "unusuals" every once in awhile.
It's part mystery/thriller, part drama; filled with little lessons learned as a native of a small town, as well as the feelings of desperation that often accompany the connectedness of a small community, the story is fast paced, yet also measured.
Initially, I felt drawn in by the mystery; the relationships and slow-to-unfold stories of the characters are what kept me engaged. I loved the rural setting (could envision myself at the old video store in my hometown), but beware: don't get bogged down in the details, the mystery, the original story. Darnielle's writing and the stories within the story should be your focus.
Years ago, I read Lipman's novel The Family Man and enjoyed it; her novels are great when you need a light pick-me-up, and this one hit the spot. Lipman's characters seem to be a little quirky, a little idealistic and, some days, this is just what I need!
Faith Frankel is a witty, sarcastic, lovable protagonist and, while somewhat predictable, the story kept me entertained during a weekend when I needed a little break. Enjoy this one outdoors, with a cup of tea, and get ready for some smiles.