A Life Fractured
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (08/10)
Eleanor grew up as a spoiled child in British India and she would have probably quite gladly stayed there for the rest of her life, but a tragic accident changed her life forever and forced her, as well as her mother, to return to Europe. They spent some time in Ireland first, and then continued to England, where Eleanor grew up into a rather confident and flirty, yet unhappy and slightly lost adult. Quite unconventional, she got involved with several rather unsuitable men, some of them even married. The last of those relationships, this one with a prominent and very married politician, prompted her ever present mother to make her an offer she could not refuse – she would pay for Eleanor’s horrendously expensive ticket to Australia, where she could escape the public outrage and humiliation threatened by the politician’s wife. The book ends, rather disappointingly, with Eleanor sitting on the plane headed to her new home.
While the back cover of “A Life Fractured” sounded like a very colorful and exciting story, I am afraid the book left me quite disappointed. With locales as exciting as colonial India, Dublin in the tumultuous 20s, World War II-damaged England and post-war United States of America, I expected tons of color and animation. Although the author provided lots of detail, it all read more like a catalogue of who – what – where and the interminable number of chance encounters and sightings of famous personalities stopped being amusing after the first few name-dropping instances. I did not feel all of those contributed to the story in any way, and only made the “based on a true life story” book less believable.
The characters in the book never came to life for me, and quite frankly, I could not have cared less about what would ultimately happen to Eleanor. There was no real character development and I found nothing to explain why she acted the way she did. Eleanor was not “bad” enough to despise, but certainly not interesting or engaging enough for me to care. When I add to this the rather flat writing (just one quick example: “The response was a negative shake of the head and she continued.”), I simply could not get immersed in the story. While I applaud the author for obviously researching the historical background and trying to include as much of it as possible, I could only wish that there would be more “show” and less “tell” in “A Life Fractured.”