Sunday, March 23, 2014

Shirley by Susan Merrell

Shirley A fictional young couple spends a year at Bennington in 1964 with novelist Shirley Jackson and her husband in this captivating psychological thriller.

This novel suffers from misclassification. When I read the blurb, it described the novel as a psychological thriller, which is…not quite right. Shirley is, at most, psychological suspense. When you categorize a book as a thriller, you make the reader think of actions, lots of it, and this book didn’t have much at all. That’s not to say that the novel is not worth reading; on the contrary, I found it engaging and very well written. It just wasn’t what I expected. 

The characters, especially Shirley, are full realized, with all their flaws visible to see. There were some, I felt, “fluff” moments. There is a dream sequence that could have easily been edited out since it had little impact on the rest of the story. It didn’t even serve as back story. Other sections were tightly written, so that the pages flew by. It just wasn’t balanced, I felt. 

This novel is one that I recommend to people who love a good literary novel with a touch of suspense. Don’t expect typical thriller material. This is a more delicate novel that, although it has its flaws, is well worth reading. 

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