“Small Hours” by Jennifer Kitses

Genre:  General Fiction (Adult)                  

Pub Date:  13 Jun 2017

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing  

I chose to read and review this book since it is being pegged as the writing is in a Richard Russo and Tom Perrotta style.  I beg to differ.   These are two of my favorite authors and I just did not see it.  The only similarities I could find are that “Small Hours” written by Jenifer Kitses, evokes a sense of place, and money, or lack of it, in the blue collar world of upstate New York.  The protagonists are in their early forties with twin three-year-old daughters.  Like many city couples, they buy a home in the suburbs that they really cannot afford.  Unfortunately for them, they bought the house at the height of the market. When they realize that their new neighborhood has a seedy side, obviously little research went into the buying, it is now too late to sell for it would be at a loss. So the wife, who works from home, is surrounded by those she would rather not have to interact with, her own neighbors.

The story is told in a span of one day, hour by hour, minute by minute using a James Joyce Ulysses format.  If you think you ever had a bad 24 hours read this story and it will no longer seem so bad.  The narration alternates between the husband’s and the wife’s point of view.  Neither knows that the other is on the verge of getting fired.  They both have been severely distracted and not at their best work wise (actually anywise).  The tale almost reads like a suspense story with the tick, tick, ticking of how many more work related, phone calls, emails, and deadlines they are each avoiding.   Both are stalling with their answers to their perspective employers.  But, Kitses plays this sort of suspense hand one too many times for her readers.  Three-quarters through, I was hoping that the damn clock would just break already and get it over with.  Both are also hiding a secret from the other (besides their soon-to-be-unemployed status).   I think the author was going for more of a “Desperate Hours” theme rather than a “Small Hours” one, either way, she lost me.   Having a book’s plot take place in a 24-hour period is not unheard of there are quite a few out there.  The classic novel “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf is one of them.  Or a more contemporary example is Everything Happens Today” by Jesse Browner, these were thought provoking novels with fascinating characters.  I am afraid that Kitses’s perpetually frenzied married couple simply were not.

Find all my reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4793025-martie-nees-record?shelf=read



“The Girl Before” by J.P. Delaney

Pub. Date:  January 24,2017       the-girl-before

Publisher:   Random House Publishing Group

The house in this story makes for a perfect Halloween tale, which is when I read this book.  It is narrated by two women.  They both (at different times) move into what the real estate agents call a “minimalist” house.  And, both have a relationship with the control freak architect who designed the house.

What the women also have in common is that they have recently survived an ordeal causing them to think irrationally, which might explain why they would even consider leasing this house.   The application is absurdly long and personal.  There is an endless list of ridiculous rules such as no rugs, no curtains, no artwork, no books, and no additional kitchenware or furniture.  To enhance the strangeness the house is digitally wired to meet all one’s needs.  The renters wear a wristband that automatically manages the house lights, the stove, the bath water temperature, and everything else you can think of, really creepy.

The theory behind the “minimalist” house is supposedly the less clutter one lives in the less complex one’s existence becomes leading to a healthier person, yea right.  So the question becomes, who is crazier the male architect or the female residents?  I didn’t think the writing was superior, but the story has some nice twists that will keep you guessing.  I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the book if I was in the mood for something more substantial, but I found this to be a good read on a cold Hallows’ Eve.  My main criticism is that I am so tired of psychological thrillers using the word “girl” in the title.  I do hope this fad ends soon.

Find all my reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4793025-martie-nees-record?shelf=read