Friday, March 23, 2012

Putting Alice Back Together by Carol Marinelli

Sometimes you get a pitch for a book to review that just seems so perfect for you as a reader. Just from reading the blurb you think that you can connect with the characters. Then you find out the book is set in your home town - always an exciting thing to read as you can recognise the places and feel of the setting. And, as the final bonus, it is an author that you have heard of, but not actually tried before. In this case, Carol Marinelli is a successful category romance author, and this book is her first crossover title into contemporary women's fiction.

So, no one is more disappointed than was to find that this book really didn't work for me at all than me.

Let's work through some of the things that made me say yes to this book. First, Alice herself. This is predominantly Alice's story and so I think your reaction will pretty much depend on how you like Alice. The blurb says "Alice is the friend you wish you had." I have to say that Alice is the kind of person that I would have chosen to not be friends with pretty early on. She has drinking and drug issues, and quite frankly, she's not all that nice to the friends that she does have.

As a reader, it is clear from the very beginning of the book that there is a big secret that has impacted on her from her early years. I did feel sympathy for Alice as we watched her life unravel, both as an adult but also as a young girl. I definitely related in some ways to Alice (the job that is not as stimulating as it used to be, a tendency towards depression and an alarming tendency to hope that money troubles will just go away are just three examples) and maybe that was part of my issue. That and the fact that my reaction to my problems is just about the total opposite to Alice externally - instead of constant drinking, I only rarely have a drink and it has been quite a few years since I did it to the extreme of losing control: instead of numerous, meaningless relationships with men I have been alone in every sense of the word for nearly 10 years. Of course, I don't have a fabulous wardrobe, shoes, haircut or any of those things either. Maybe I am a bit jealous!

As I mentioned, another factor that caught my attention was the fact that it was set in Melbourne, but really it could have been any city, anywhere. There was also a significant portion of the book that was set in the UK. It will be interesting to see if the book is also released in the UK on the back of this duel setting.

When it came to the 'secret', it was clear from very early in the book what the secret was but the author did do a relatively decent job of drawing out the details, although there were times when it was hard to tell which time period we were in, current Alice or teenage Alice. The story slowly unraveled not only in terms of what happened but also the impact that the resulting secrets that not only Alice kept, but also that were imposed on the people around her. And I have to admit that even despite the fact that I didn't like Alice, I was still moved as it all came together at the end of the book, especially in relation to the secret from the past.

I should mention that there are some romantic undertones to the novel, but not only did I not quite buy into the  relationship, I definitely did not buy into the crisis point between the guy and Alice.

There are, of course, plenty of people who do like the book, and here is a video from the publisher explaining what they thought was fantastic about the book. It is unfortunate that I couldn't be as enthusiastic.

Rating 2/5

Alice is the friend you wish you had. The girl who makes a party more fun, pulls a funny face to make you feel better, drinks wine out of a mug and makes you laugh while you're crying over an ex.

Alice is totally happy, everything is amazing, and there is nothing at all to worry about... except, well:

Her job was really great 10 years ago;
The sexiest guy alive doesn't want her...because he's gay;
Her credit card bills are under her bed - unopened

But maybe the biggest problem for Alice is that she has a secret. A secret so big she can't tell anyone. How do you keep a secret like that when everything is starting to fall apart? And once it's out there, how do you ever begin to put yourself back together again?

I read this book for the Aussie Author Challenge and also the Australian Women Writer's Challenge. Thanks to the publisher and the publicists for sending me the book. Sorry I didn't enjoy it more.


  1. Too bad you didn't enjoy this one more. I hate it when I am really looking forward to reading a book and it ends up being disappointing. Thanks for the review, I'll know to pass on this one.

    1. It is really disappointing when it happens Anne!

  2. Oh, I am sorry that this one didn't work for you! Alice doesn't sound like a friend I'd like to have either, to tell you the truth, and I don't think I would have like to have spent so much time with her. Very clear and detailed review today, Marg. You really did a great job explaining why this was just not the book for you!

    1. Thanks Heather. I wanted to be able to lay out what didn't work for me so I am glad that you thought that worked.

  3. Bummer this didn't work out for you. It's hard when you go in to a book with high expectations and get disappointed. But we all go in like that I guess, why would we read a book if we don't think it will be good.

  4. Not every book is meant to be liked. That's why there is vanilla and chocloate. As least you gave it a try and still wrote an excellent honest review.

    1. Thanks Jenny. It's not always easy write reviews for books you didn't like all that much.

  5. That blurb makes it look very good. Sad that you didn't like it, but hey, if we all liked everything, our blogs would be very boring!

  6. A very thoughtful review Marg, and you make a lot of points that I agree with though I think I liked it a tad more than you did.
    Thanks for sharing your AWW review

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

    1. Yes, I read your review Shelleyrae, and I do think you liked it a bit more than I did!

  7. You gave this a fair review Marg. I agree with you, from the sounds of it Alice isn't the type of friend i would want to have either!



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