Thursday, January 18, 2018

You Were There Before My Eyes: Debut Novel by Maria Riva

Hello!  Claws for Concern by Miranda James will be available on February 20.  It is ninth book in A Cat in the Stacks Mystery seriesTwelve Angry Librarians (the eighth book in the series) was a delight to read.  It contained good characters and a great mystery.    

You Were There Before My Eyes is a historical novel by Maria Riva.  It is 1913 in Cirie, Italy where Giovanna “Jane” Zanchetta lives.  Jane has big dreams and they do not include staying in her village.  Then Giovanni or John returns from America looking for a bride.  John is an employee of the Ford Motor Company.  When John’s first choice for a bride falls through, he is encouraged to consider Jane.  They are soon wed and start their journey to Michigan.  Jane discovers many new wonders along the way.  She must learn English and how to run a modern household.  She is grateful for the help from Hannah Geiger, John’s landlady who helps her adapt to America.  After a while, John purchases them their own home.  Jane must deal with regulations enforced on employees for their homes by Ford (inspectors).  America enters World War I which brings its own set of challenges for Jane and her circle of friends.  What is in store for Jane in the future?  Read You Were There Before My Eyes to find out.

You Were There Before My Eyes was not what I expected.  I found the book to be too long (587 pages) and slow paced.  To be blunt, it was dull, tedious and predictable.  The dialogue was awkward (it was bad) and Hannah Geiger’s accent was exaggerated.  There was overuse of the word “vifey” and it was a struggle at time to decipher her dialogue.  It was obvious that the author did her research on Henry Ford and his company (she knew many details and included them in the story).  The book seemed to be an opus to Mr. Ford.  Maria Riva was overly descriptive.  I did feel that the author captured what new immigrants went through upon coming to America.  However, we did not need some of the minute details that she included (describe an outfit down to the buttons on it for example).  We are subjected to endless pages of Jane cleaning her home, cooking, baking, doing laundry, and taking care of her children.  Every holiday is described and historical event.  It seemed like the author was trying to include every historical event that took place during the time period of this novel as well as the inventions (postcards, Kellogg’s cereal, Sears Roebuck and their mail order catalog).  The characters are not fleshed out and given life.  They were flat and there were numerous peripheral characters.   The book lacked emotion and depth.  It felt like the author did not connect with her own story.  It is just the telling of a story (reminded me of a person who reads out loud in a monotone voice—uninspiring, bland).  I finally reached the end and it felt incomplete.  Unfortunately, You Were There Before My Eyes is not a book I can recommend.  Maria Riva is the only child of actress, Marlene Dietrich. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my review.  Next time I will be sharing my thoughts on Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller.  I hope that you have a happy day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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