Finished two books over the long holiday weekend. I felt like parallel universes colliding. How can two books from different authors and different publishers be so alike?
I wanted to read The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah after her tremendous success with The Nightingale. I also loved her Winter Garden. Both titles present historical fiction at their finest with rich detail and characters formed by the historical events happening around them. I bought The Great Alone earlier this year at its release in February. It has sat on my beside table until I finally got to it on the bottom of my stack as a stark departure from the warmth of Cape Cod summer beaches to the wilderness of 1970s Alaska.
Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing is the first fiction piece from a well respected and best-selling non-fiction naturalist. Ms. Owens created a story set in the 1960s steeped in the nature and marshlands of the NC coastline and I suspect she pulled upon her and her husband’s own experiences of living in the area. I noticed several recommendations for it as a brand new release (August) in one of my FB groups. When I realized I had some Audible credits to use, I downloaded it to my phone and listened to it during all my recent work drive times.
#amreading #bookreview #BookClub #historicalfiction #womenfiction
How could these two stories sound similar? Warning – some spoiler alerts!
- Both main characters mature from their childhood through their teens into young women over the course of the book with a coming of age theme. Both could be considered YA if not for the length, especially The Great Alone clocking in close to 500 pages – one of my disappointments – it did drag. Ms. Hannah could have edited out at least 75 pages.
- Each one grows up in a family with an abusive father and the fear of an absent mother, real or imaginary fear. Each mother comes from an upper-class family and marries a man deemed to be beneath her by her family and leaves the comforts of her family for the love of the wrong man.
- Each main character falls for a local boy, loses the boy, finds the boy.
- Each main character ends up working as a naturalist tied to art – one a photographer, one an illustrator.
- Both settings explore the beauty of the wild nature of the characters’ surroundings – the NC marshlands and the Alaskan inlet.
- Both involve a murder with an unscrupulous local cop/sheriff as a secondary character.
- Both involve a large African American woman who befriends the main character.
- Both make mention of a necklace made from elements from the local area – a bone, a shell.
Finally, take a look at the cover art of each book – even the colors and hues are the same burnt orange of a late summer afternoon sunset framed with black tree silhouettes.
The closeness of the characters, the themes and the settings makes one wonder – are there any new ideas left? In a parallel universe, is someone writing the same story as I am? Does Eliza have a twin in the making out there on someone else’s tablet? I hope I am developing a unique novel, a story which hasn’t been told. Sure, there will always be some comparisons for any book, and I hope readers will compare my book to some of the greats – Little Women? Gone with the Wind? Pride & Prejudice? Little House on the Prairie? Those are some of my favorites.
But at the end of the day, ONE WAY or ANOTHER, I want Eliza to stand on her own, to be her own character with her own story.
Ok, all you former punkers from the 70’s and ’80s – go ahead – treat yourself and hit up you tube for Blondie’s Parallel Lines album – you know you’re humming it already…
“One way or another, I’m gonna find ya’
I’m gonna get ya’, get ya’, get ya’, get ya’
One way or another, I’m gonna win ya’
I’m gonna get ya’, get ya’ ,get ya’, get ya’
One way or another, I’m gonna see ya’
I’m gonna meet ya’, meet ya’, meet ya’, meet ya’
One day maybe next week, I’m gonna meet ya’
I’m gonna meet ya’, I’ll meet ya’
I will drive past your house and if the lights are all down
I’ll see who’s around”.
Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction. More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.