Hmm… I’m not going to lie. This wasn’t as good as I hoped it might be.
Last year I read The Descendants, by the same author, and it was one of my favourite general fiction reads ever. Probably, my expectations of this were unrealistic from the start.
The Possibilities is a first-person novel following Sarah St. John, a forty-something shopping channel TV host, and her experiences as a newly grieving mother.
I’ve become stormy and difficult, mean and sad. If I was confronted with someone like myself I’d feel sorry for them. Then I’d get bored by them, and then I’d hate them for their sad, sad story.
She’s not the most likable protagonist. Her thoughts, and not just as a result of grief, are often unkind, and her treatment of other characters is frequently careless. However, I don’t think that’s a failing. She is well-fleshed, complex, and her development through the stages of grief is mature and convincing.
I don’t know though, it just didn’t do it for me. Somehow the delicate undertones of feeling that made The Descendants so strong were muddled here. The tension was uneven, and I couldn’t share in the sentiments, as I felt I could with the other novel.
The plot wasn’t the focus, so I can forgive it for being predictable, and there were moments that hinted at the emotional punch this novel fails to deliver. However, it was all a bit like the smell of next door’s cooking on an empty stomach. Tantalising, but ultimately unsatisfying, and more than a bit frustrating.
It’s a beautiful day, I realize. I live in a beautiful place. The surrounding pines, so impossibly tall, sparkle with snow. I tilt my face up and inhale, willing my surroundings to enter me somehow and to remind me how small I am.
I liked most of the secondary characters, especially Sarah’s father, and I think from an empirical perspective the novel is effective in exploring the different ways people mourn, but there was no one I adored.
The humour, also, is an acquired taste (but maybe that’s cultural – it’s no secret American humour doesn’t always work so well across the pond), and the prose is an inch from average.
But I liked it. I did. The portrayal of female friendships is actually quite exceptional. I just didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.