Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review - Based Upon Availability by Alix Strauss

Based Upon Availability by Alix Strauss
published 6/10
352 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

From the very first page of this stunning novel, readers are drawn into the lives of eight seemingly ordinary women who pass through Manhattan's swanky Four Seasons Hotel. While offering sanctuary to some, solace to others, the hotel captures their darkest moments as they grapple with family, sex, power, love, and death.

Trish obsesses over her best friend's wedding and dramatic weight loss. Robin wants revenge after a lifetime of abuse at the hands of her older sister. Anne is single, lonely, and suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Drug-addicted rock star Louise needs to dry out. Southerner turned wannabe Manhattanite Franny is envious of her neighbors' lives. Sheila wants to punish her boyfriend for returning to his wife. Ellen so desperately wants children that she insists she's pregnant to her disbelieving husband. And Morgan, the hotel manager--haunted by the memory of her dead sister--is the thread that weaves these women's lives together.

My thoughts:

I'm having an unusually hard time writing this review, because my thoughts about this book are rather mixed. Parts of the novel worked well for me, and parts just bugged me enough to keep me from being able to fully immerse myself in the flow of the narrative.

I loved the idea of the novel - I'm a big fan of authors who can take several lives or events that seem to be completely random and weave those strands together into a cohesive whole. In many ways, Strauss was very successful with that aspect of her novel. She created 8 women who were nothing like each other - women who, under normal circumstances, would most likely never even meet - and found ways to entwine them with each other that felt surprising and yet natural. My favorite parts of the novel involved the interactions these women had with each other.

Having said that, I never really felt an emotional connection to any of the women in the story. They were all interesting, and fairly well-drawn, but none of them really drew me into their life in such a way that I HAD to know how their story was going to end. Morgan in particular was difficult to sympathize with - almost from the beginning, I felt like distancing myself from her.

I think Strauss is a good writer - and if you browse through other reviews of this book, you will find lots of readers who enjoyed this novel very much. I was just never compelled to keep reading, which is what I'm really looking for when I sit down with a story. Especially now, with my reading time starting to disappear, I want to find a book that makes me forget about everything around me, and get lost in the story. This book was fine, but never quite swept me away.

Finished- 6/20/

Source - review copy compliments of TLC Book Tours - thanks!

MPAA Rating - definitely R, for sexual situations, violence, and language

My rating - 6/10

Don't just take my word for it! If this book peaks your interest, check out the other stops on this tour (Hint - most of them like it more than me...):

Tuesday, June 8th: nomadreader

Wednesday, June 9th: Raging Bibliomania

Thursday, June 10th: Book Addiction

Monday, June 14th: Dolce Bellezza

Tuesday, June 22nd: Heart 2 Heart

Wednesday, June 23rd: Reading on a Rainy Day

Thursday, June 24th: As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves

Tuesday, June 29th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, June 30th: Starting Fresh

Date TBD: Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

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