Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Other Half of Me - Morgan McCarthy

The Other Half of Me by Morgan McCarthy
Publisher: Free Press
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Source/Format: Publisher (Thank you!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Growing up in their family’s ancestral home in Wales, Jonathan Anthony and his little sister, Theo, are inseparable. Together they explore the wild acres of Evendon, inventing magical worlds and buttressing each other against the loneliness of life with their alcoholic mother, Alicia, and a shifting cast of gossiping cooks and maids. When a family tragedy brings their glamorous grandmother, Eve, home from America, Jonathan and Theo are initially elated by the attention she lavishes on them. But soon it becomes clear that there is more to the Anthony family history than either Eve or Alicia will acknowledge, trapping Jonathan and Theo in a web of dark secrets that have haunted Evendon for generations. (from Goodreads)

There are times when I crave something different from what I normally read - and that's where novels like this one come in. While it did take longer to find myself invested in finishing this one, it was just the kind of book I wanted at the time. This story is drawn out and told with carefully chosen turns of phrase, telling the story of this family and their history with well-crafted prose.

It's fairly easy to call to mind the main players in this tale - Jonathan, Theo, Eve and Alicia, who are all members of the infamous Anthony family. This is a testament to the author's ability to create characters that are distinctive and memorable. They were carved into being, with personality quirks that set them apart from one another: Jonathan was the older brother who strove to achieve the right things, Eve was the grandmother who inspired him with her own success, Theo was the younger sister who had a interesting view of the world and Alicia was the alcoholic mother who often spent her days napping in bed or drinking to ward off her own sorrows.

The story studies the relationships between these main characters, starting from when Jonathan and Theo were mere children up until they are adults. While Alicia's neglect of her children certainly played a role in their personality development, it was really Jonathan and Theo's relationship with Eve and with each other that this book so beautifully tells us about. Like real relationships, there are good parts and bad parts and all the parts in between. Toss in a bit of fame and a ton of scandal, and you have fodder for an interesting story.

The most fascinating thing about the book, however, is the tone that the author employs in telling this story. It was equal parts pensive and thoughtful, which lent to the novel's slow movement from the beginning to end. There was an overall feeling of melancholy, and I finished the book feeling thoughtful and sad for this family and their story. This was a marked change from my usual quick-paced, snappy reads, and I was able to embrace it wholeheartedly as I dove into this book.

With its quiet, drawn out story, The Other Half of Me drew me into the world of the Anthonys and their lives. It was interesting, and slightly voyeuristic, to be given such an intimate view of Jonathan's thoughts and his experiences with his family. While I certainly don't expect everyone to enjoy it, fans of thoughtful, lovely prose and exploring familial ties will find this book as fascinating as I did.

9 comments:

  1. I've not heard of this one, but the summary and your review make it sound like something I would enjoy. The family dynamics and your description of the tone kind of reminds me of the play A Long Day's Journey Into Night, if you've ever read that. Great review!

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    1. Ooh, I haven't read it but I'm going to totally look it up now! It reminded me a lot of Atonement, actually.

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  2. What a lovely review! I especially like how this is a book that you ventured into as an out-of-the-usual read. The author's writing seems really great in this one too, and I am definitely always drawn in by thoughtful prose <3 Thanks for sharing this with us!

    New follower :)
    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

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    1. Her writing is impeccable, at least to me. I love the way she described things and made her characters real.

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  3. I love books that study relationships over a long period of time and the inner-workings of a family. Great review!

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    1. Me too! I think it's interesting because you get to grow along with the characters and their family.

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  4. Lovely thoughtful review Alexa. This sounds like a really interesting read and the cover is very eye catching too.

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  5. I am SO with you on craving something different! I try to mix up what I read genre-wise, especially because I will go on binges of certain types of books and then not want to pick one up for ages. So I'm trying to be better about mixing everything up so that I don't feel like I've overdosed on dystopian/historical fiction/etc.

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    1. YES! I always try not to read the same genre one after another, just so I don't get sick of the books in that genre.

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