Tuesday, June 16, 2015

On the Edge of My (Car) Seat: Disclaimer

I can't resist book review in newspapers and magazines. I always pick up the little book news at the library or book stores too.  I especially love the IndieBound publication for its book suggestions. I've heard so many authors, especially those experiencing early success, crediting the promotion by independent book stores for their success.

Consequently, I end up with more books on my "to read" list than I could ever read. But a new one always finds a way to muscle its way to the top of the stack. This past week, I had just noticed a mention of Renee Knight's novel Disclaimer, and I read no more than the first paragraph. When I found the audiobook on my library's new books shelf, I couldn't resist.

Knight's story unfolds in a way that reminded me of Stephen King.  She alternates between the perspective of Catherine Ravenscroft told in third person as she begins reading a book she finds on her nightstand and discovers a story she thought no one alive knew but her. She's spent twenty years protecting a secret from her husband and their son, feeling as if she's living a lie.

The alternative chapters are told in first person by Stephen Brigstocke, an elderly man responsible for the book's publication, although the story was original written by his late wife. Knight moves smoothly between the two threads of the narrative, holding back crucial elements of the actual true story that occurred twenty years before, changing all their lives. What she doesn't tell is as engaging as what she--or her narrators--reveal.

The development of the secondary characters, especially Catherine's husband Robert and their adult son Nicholas, make up a significant portion of the suspense of the novel.

While the novel doesn't make the huge shifts in awareness that a book like Gone Girl does, Knight controls her narrative deftly and develops her characters subtly and fully. The most despicable characters at time evoke readers' empathy, and the most sympathetic characters provoke questions and doubt. I found that I carried around a sense of uneasiness during much of the time I was listening to the book.

Disclaimer, though a little raw for some readersis the perfect summer read, more likely to become a movie than ever to find a place on a summer reading list. I expect to hear a lot about the book before the summer ends.

No comments: