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Monday, November 8, 2010

Review - Anita Shreve's Strange Fits of Passion




Anita Shreve takes a very commonplace story - an abusive violent husband and a submissive wife and turns it on its head! The story is compiled of a reporter's writings and letters from prison from Maureen who is convicted of killing her husband.

We go back in this story 20 years and it is being told in the present to Maureen's daughter Caroline who is a young college student - and the familiar story becomes somehow different in Shreve's hands.

Maureen decides to run away as she realizes there is no choice facing her - taking baby Caroline with her. For a period of six weeks she is able to live an idyllic life in a rural town, enjoying very quietly domestic life with her baby till Harrold turns up and her life is turned upside down once again.

The spectre of domestic violence in the 1970's was not a subject much discussed and rape within a marriage was not even an offence so this was a difficult subject to handle at the time. In the present context we would realize that Maureen could have done much more but at the time there were no options for her other than to run away.

A very straightforward characterization of both Maureen and Harrold make this book an exceptional read.

Just 336 pages long I would give it a 4 out of 5.

10 comments:

Mary said...

I wasn't familiar with this Shreve novel but after reading your review I added it to my TBR list. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This was one of my favorite Anita Shreve books --I've read them all. Nice review.

Marce said...

I really enjoyed Testimony and switched it with a friend for this one, I should read it sounds good.

I decided to read more her work in 2011.

Marie said...

sounds like a good book about a tough topic. thanks for the great review!

Anna said...

I've read nearly all of Shreve's novels (she's one of my favorite authors), and while I thought this one was good, it wasn't my favorite. From what I remember about it, I felt like the movement from present to past made the story more predictable. I agree with you, though, that Maureen had few options to escape the violence.

Cheryl said...

I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds very good from your review. I added it to my list!

bermudaonion said...

Somehow that book has totally slipped under my radar. I love Shreve's work!

Blodeuedd said...

This one would just make me sad :(
I do wonder if she killed in self defence or if she went mad

Leslie @ Under My Apple Tree said...

Another one of my favorite authors. I liked this book but my favorite and first one of her books was Eden Close.

stacybuckeye said...

I love Shreve's writing but wasn't familiar with this one. I'll have to check it out.