Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Oprah Book Club Selection #10 - Here On Earth by Alice Hoffman

Here On Earth by Alice Hoffman. 1999 Berkley, 336 pages.

It’s time for another book review. This is selection #10, with only two more to go from my year-long Oprah Book Club challenge.

This is a very good, well-written, frustrating novel.

The main character is March Murray, who returns to her small town for the funeral of the housekeeper who was her surrogate mother. March brings her teen-age daughter, Gwen, who is struggling with issues and has a bit of an attitude. March leaves her husband, Richard, who also grew up in the town, in California, where he is a college professor. The reader’s initial expectations are that March, as the protagonist, will also be the hero of the story, but these expectations will soon be dashed.

March promises her husband that she will return very shortly, but her long-lost love who broke her heart all those years ago steps in to change her plans.

I found March Murray to be totally unlikeable. She is selfish, narcissistic, seems to care little about her daughter, who she virtually abandons in her old farmhouse and is willing to give up everything, including her friends, husband and daughter, for her high-school sweetheart. Even more shocking, she risks her daughter’s safety while relentlessly pursuing the man of her dreams.

What makes this book mildly satisfying is that her old flame turns out to be a monster, and he and March do not live happily ever after. There are several characters that are much more interesting than March, including her daughter Gwen, March’s alcoholic, hermit brother, Alan and her nephew Hank.

If you like seeing people get their just rewards, and you love richly-drawn characters, then you will likely look past the frustration of your protagonist having few redeeming qualities.

This is a good book, well worth your time.

Out of five stars, I give Here On Earth….

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