Sunday, August 14, 2016

Liberty Street

Liberty Street by Dianne Warren
Penguin Publishing Group: 8/16/16
eBook review copy; 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9780399158018

Liberty Street by Dianne Warren is a recommended novel about a woman confronting her past.

Frances Moon, a woman "nearer 60 than 50," is on a vacation in Ireland with her partner of 20 years, Ian, when she blurts out two secrets she has been keeping from him since they met: She had a child who died when she was 19 and she is still married to another man, if he is still living, although he wasn't the father of the baby. Understandably, Ian is upset and heads home to Canada. Frances follows him back to Canada. After a few tense days, Ian tells her that she is a person who resists happiness before he leaves on what may or may not be a business trip. Frances decides to quit her job and head to Elliot, the small town in northern Saskatchewan where she grew up. The story then shifts back in time to when Frances was a child in the 1960's growing up on a dairy farm with her parents.

Liberty Street is extremely well written. Warren deftly establishes the time periods and settings with skill. You will feel what life in a small rural town in Saskatchewan was like for Frances and others. The characters are well developed, including secondary characters. However, Frances's past story unfolds with great restraint and none of the characters are highly emotional.

While Frances is a well developed character, she is also an unlikable character who seems to go through life sabotaging herself, lacking any ambition beyond rebelling, denial, and escapism. After making mistakes, (which we all do, especially when young) she didn't seem to learn or grow as a person from them. Perhaps the disconnect I felt toward to her character is because Warren doesn't allow Frances to share her motivations for many of her acts. It's okay to have an unlikable character, but for most readers to connect with these broken people, we need a glimpse of some kernel of truth, some admission of her motives, her mistakes.

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.

No comments: