The Gin & Chowder Club

ginchowderI picked up this book while I was on vacation on Cape Cod, hoping to capture some of that Cape feeling.

First of all, I have to think that if you’re writing a contemporary novel and decide to set it the 60s, it serves you well to make this obvious.  Include it in the summary on the back.  Put a date on the opening page.  Don’t bury it in a quick mention in the Preface.  I didn’t realize until well into the novel that it was set in the 60s, which I found disorienting.

Second, if you set your book in the 60s, set it in the 60s.  There were a few mentions here and there (a car, a song, a book) that gave you a sense of time, but there wasn’t much.  And there were a few points that specifically gave the impression that the book was set in the present.  Describing one of the characters as a young introvert, seems a little out of place with the time.  There were several other instances (often around telephone calls) that gave the impression the characters had cell phones.

Perhaps the author was trying to give a sense of the timelessness of the Cape experience, but I don’t think she achieved that.

While I would have liked more of the setting in the summary on the back, I could have done with less of giving away the only real plot twist on the back.  Knowing the betrayal that was going to happen in the book and that it was going to be discovered with disastrous outcomes pretty much killed the book.  There was a cloud of doom over everything that happened and the plot ‘twists’ were incredibly obvious.  It’s too bad.  I would have preferred to read the book without knowing the ending.  And the ‘disastrous’ outcomes didn’t seem so bad when you finally got there.

I can appreciate that the author thought that “The Gin & Chowder Club” would be a good title for a book.  However, I’m a little surprised she thought it would be a good title for THIS book.  Those in the Gin & Chowder Club were more peripheral to the action.

For all of that, this wasn’t a horrible book.  It was just a missed opportunity to write a better book.

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