A Swiss journalist strives to redress the meaninglessness of her life with even more meaningless sexual encounters in Coelho's latest pseudo-philosophical screed.
Linda, a respected newspaper reporter in Geneva, is happily married to a handsome, wealthy and generous financier. … When she interviews Jacob, a former flame from school days who's now a rising politician, Linda behaves professionally right until she administers a parting blow job. The ensuing affair jolts Linda out of the low-grade depression she has been experiencing despite her enviable lifestyle. Her adulterous behavior disturbs her, however, since she can't explain her own motives.
Coelho milks each opportunity to preach—by way of endless interior monologues, quotes from Scripture and talky scenes—sermons about love, marriage, sexual attraction, evolutionary theory and every other imponderable he can muster.
Occasional interesting tidbits about the novel's setting, the French-speaking Swiss canton of Vaud, are not enough to redeem the pervasive mawkishness. More trite truthiness from Coelho.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
“The sole survivor of a family massacre is pushed into revisiting a past she’d much rather leave alone, in Flynn’s scorching follow-up to . . . Flynn intercuts Libby’s venomous detective work with flashbacks to the fatal day 24 years ago so expertly that as they both hurtle toward unspeakable revelations, you won’t know which one you’re more impatient to finish. . . . every sentence crackles with enough baleful energy to fuel a whole town through the coldest Kansas winter.”
Another sprawling, multigenerational, continent-spanning saga from long-practiced pop-fiction writer Follett (Winter of the World, 2012, etc.).
One might forgive the reader for taking Follett’s title literally at first glance; after all, who has time for the eternity of a 1,100-plus–page novel, especially one that’s preceded by a brace of similarly hefty novels? Happily, Follett, while not delivering the edge-of-the-seat tautness of Eye of the Needle (1978), knows how to turn in a robust yarn without too much slack, even in a book as long as this.
Follett writes of those young hipsters with a fustiness befitting Michener, and indeed there’s a Michenerian-epic feeling to the whole enterprise, as if The Drifters had gotten mashed up with John le Carré and Pierre Salinger; it’s George Burns in Pepperland stuff. Still, fans of Follett won’t mind, and, knowing all the tricks, he does a good job of tying disparate storylines together in the end.
A well-written entertainment, best suited to those who measure their novels in reams instead of signatures.