Monday, July 04, 2005
Innocence by Kathleen Tessaro
Happy 4th of July. It's been a great weekend here in New York, the weather has been perfect, not too hot, and very dry, which we like. Just got my first rejection from this round of partials. Dream Agent #1 liked my character and her voice but thought some of the dialogue was awkward and that it seemed dated. Hmm, I'm glad that she liked Julia, but I don't know what do about it seeming dated.
I read Kathleen Tessaro's new book Innocence over the weekend. I got lucky and found a copy in the library on Friday, and eagerly tore into the book. I really enjoyed her debut book, Elegance. I thought it was clever and very well written. I don't read much literary chick-lit, but I thought that Kathleen had an assurance that you don't normally find with a first time author.
I must confess, I had an ulterior motive for wanting to read Innocence. Kathleen and I both attended the same drama school in London, and we each had the same flatmate. I was there the fall of 1987, and Kathleen in the spring of 1988. She even married a student that was on my program. So I was eager to see if the book was going to be a roman a clef of her time at BADA.
Well, I was wrong. Kathleen is too clever, and too good a writer. Some of the details about BADA and it's co-founders leaked in, but they are cleverly masked, and you'd have to know the participants to even catch a glimpse.
A brief synopsis of the plot from the front flap. 'Its 1986 and 18th year old Evie dreams of being an actress. Leaving her hometown of Eden, Ohio, for the first time, she's heading off to London to study drama. Together with fellow students, Imogene (a born-again Lura Ashley poster child and frustrated virgin) and Robbie (a native New Yorker, budding bohemian, and very much not a virgin), Evie's flung into a thrilling new world - a world illuminated by the glamorous and outrageous Robbie. Together, anything's possible. But then life, an dlove, intervene. And everything changes. Fifteen years later, Evie's a single mother teaching drama to night students. Robbie's gone now, killed in a car accident. And Evie's doing her best to forget the past, as well as the dreams they once shared. Then an old friendship comes back to haunt Evie, literally.'
That's the book in a nutshell. Although I enjoyed the book, the biggest problem for me was Robbie. I didn't see the attraction that Evie feels for her and her life, the sense that Robbie was larger than life. The scenes in the past are sketchy at best, and the character of Imogene suffers the most. At times, I felt that Evie was too passive, that I was being kept at a distance from her and her story. Even her relationship with Jake Albery feels sketchy and unfulfilled. Apart from being a bad boy, I never saw why she stayed with him, or how he changed her.
Still, I felt Evie's nostalgia for the girl that she once was, when she first came to England and everything was new, before her innocence was taken away from her. It was a good read, if not quite as satisfying as I would have liked it to be.