The Wild Vine
Sandra Pesini & Shirley Matson Wolf
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The Wild Vine
Sandra Pesini & Shirley Matson Wolf
Lightning Source, Inc.
577 pages
March 2002
rated 1 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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A book of some weight, The Wild Vine runs 577 pages. Based on actual experiences, the novel promises multiple themes of jealousy, deceit, lust, and incest, as the seeds of young Abigail's traumatic childhood bear bitter fruit when she matures into womanhood. Certainly such familiar themes of generational family drama would appear to provide a rich source of material, and the story is partially based on historical fact.

I have never been one to shy away from a long book. In fact, I love nothing more than to lose myself in a well-written novel, the longer the better. The key issue for me, however, is quality of writing. While the first chapter was a bit clumsy and the character's relationships confusing, I decided to give The Wild Vine a fair try. I got as far as Chapter Four. But the excessive use of adjectives to over-describe people and events became irritating and often just foolish. This is not necessarily a fatal flaw; many an editor's red pen has pulled a good story back together and gotten it on track. Unfortunately, this novel suffers from a lack of editing.

There is always an extra challenge in a co-authored work of fiction, the obvious problem created by two voices merged into one style. I'll go out on a limb here and hypothesize that one author created the story line, and the other the extremely unbelievable dialogue; a sample:

"Everybody coos and goos all over her. They think nothing of disturbing her sleep. She's getting used to being held and I'm the one that has to deal with that in the middle of the night. Not Johnny, his mother, or his obnoxious friend--"

"Hmm, sounds pretty bad to me (p.310)."
I gave this book one and a half stars for the enormous effort involved in the end product. My disappointment is partially a reflection of personal taste; perhaps a reader the romance genre would enjoy the particularly florid prose. I'll leave that up to the individual, and forego the pleasure myself.

© 2003 by Luan Gaines for Curled Up With a Good Book

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