Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: Jilted (specially for Car)

JiltedJilted by Rachael Johns
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I downloaded this as a free e-book. I have a friend who loves country romances and recommended this author. I was after a light, easy read so thought I would give it a go.
At the start it was pretty much as I expected - formula late-twenties/early thirties romance in a rural Aussie setting. It was okay but I began to get a little bugged by the clunky-ness of it. I had spent some time in the area where it is set, and some of the descriptions of the town and area bought back fond memories - the local numberplates, the co-op store, the apex park - but also made me feel that the writer was trying to prove her credentials and show she knew the region. It didn't really add anything to the story, and in some cases made me question the authenticity of the setting. A town big enough for a high school and a hospital, but with only a co-op grocery store that did everything? Not a huge problem but it made me feel that the hospital/sick aunt plot wasn't gelling very well.
Clunky also describes the far-too-frequent references to 'Farmer Wants a Wife' and the odd phrases about 'much loved television personalities', and the whole soapy-star-who-walks-away-from-a-brilliant-career-to-nurse-a-dying-aunt subplot.
The plot of the story felt more and more forced the further into the book I got. Seriously - you don't come back after TEN YEARS apart, in which neither of you cared enough to contact the other, and then start all over again. And I couldn't work out why I was so upset yet willing to keep reading. There was something charming there, and something about the characterisations that got me, but on the whole I was left feeling...underwhelmed, cheated?
The book stayed with me.
Later I read an 'authors note' in another novel that described how characters had forced the author to write a totally different story to the one she set out to write.
That was why this book bugged me so much!
Rachel Johns didn't listen to her characters. She told a story crafted to fit a formula, not the story they needed to tell.
For there is a story there, but I would love to hear it as it happens not in flashbacks a decade after the fact. The wonder and excitement of teens finding their soulmate, but being told they were 'too young'. The thoughtlessness and misunderstandings that makes one of them make a mistake while alone and out of her depth. The angst and pain as she tries to make it right but makes it worse. And the wild trip across country as he tracks down his runaway love, the heartbreaking tale she tells, the adult decisions they are forced to make - and a resolution, but not mine to make.
There. That is the story those two country kids were trying to tell me. And I would love to read it.

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