Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Other Half of Me Review

I bought this book because the description reminded me a bit of The Thirteenth Tale, one of my all time favorite books. With the weather finally cooling down, I've been in the mood for something gothic. The Other Half of Me seemed to have all of the elements that I had been looking for: a big old English mansion, neglected children, mysterious scandals, etc. However, it wasn't the book I was expecting.

The Other Half of Me is the story of Jonathan and his sister Theo, who live in a house called Evendon in Wales. They live with their neglectful, alcoholic mother and a nanny, who barely pays attention to them. All they know about their father was that he died in Australia. They live in relative isolation and are permitted to do anything they want, really, since no one seems to care what they do. Jonathan is smart and serious, while Theo is flighty.

Their lives change when their mother is hospitalized and when she returns, their grandmother, Eve moves in with them. Eve Anthony is the daughter of a famous archaeologist named George Bennett. She was widowed in her early thirties when her politician husband died in a boating accident. After that, she took his job in the government and was a politician during the Kennedy and Nixon years. Finally, she left DC, married a studio owner in Hollywood and eventually became a famous businesswoman.

Eve changes the children's lives, encouraging Jonathan to pursue his interest in architecture since he seems to fit the role of her heir. Theo is more difficult. She can't stay in school or hold a job and frustrates Eve. Alicia, the children's mother, continues to drink her days away. Their often missing uncle, Alex, simmers with anger towards Eve but rarely enters the picture.

The book is narrated by Jonathan, who is happy to be Eve's heir, but wishes his sister would pull herself together. He lacks patience and understanding when it comes to her flightiness. Slowly their world spins into disaster as Theo begins to lose it.

So the book wasn't really the gothic story I was looking for but I still enjoyed it. Towards the end tragedy occurs and secrets are revealed but it was too little too late. Most of the book revolves around Jonathan and Theo growing up under Eve's watchful eye. Jonathan falls for a girl named Maria, who is always just out of reach, and succeeds in his career, while Theo flounders. The last 15% or so took me a while to get through as it dragged a bit, but ultimately the ending was satisfactory. This was no Jane Eyre, but was still an enjoyable story.

Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble

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