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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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Each main character falls for a local boy, loses the boy, finds the boy.
  4. Each main character ends up working as a naturalist tied to art – one a photographer, one an illustrator.
  5. Both settings explore the beauty of the wild nature of the characters’ surroundings – the NC marshlands and the Alaskan inlet.
  6. Both involve a murder with an unscrupulous local cop/sheriff as a secondary character.
  7. Both involve a large African American woman who befriends the main character.
  8. 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”.

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13 thoughts on “Parallel Lines

  1. Interesting… I must say that a couple things here make the comparisons seem a bit… too close for comfort, if you ask me. Especially the necklace bit. But with the Moyes and Richardson books, I’m talking about whole paragraphs, conversations, and scenes that are almost word for word the same. But you have to decide for yourself, and I’ll draw my own conclusions. I never read Moyes’s books because until this book, she wrote contemporary romance, which just isn’t my thing (which again, makes me suspicious). As for these two books – I haven’t read either, so I can’t say. But don’t worry about your own book. You write your story, and don’t worry about if it could be compared to something someone else has written. It is true that “there’s nothing new under the sun” but your way of writing it will be different than anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the vote of confidence! I’d never read Moyes before either, I only read Giver of Stars as a book club choice. And, you’re right – very difficult to find something new. In fact, readers apparently clamor for similar reads. I sat in on a HF writing group’s discussion yesterday recapping the Historical Novel Society’s conference. One member shared trends identified as in demand from publishers. World War II remains hot!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No surprise with that! Lots of stuff you can write about regarding WWII. I just think that some of it becomes… as my friend called it “Holocaust porn” where authors who have no connection to the Holocaust or the war, think that a small fact can become a 400+ page novel!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, well… there’s a book that’s just been released that feels very much like “Holocaust porn” and after not being overly thrilled with the author’s previous work, I think I’ve gone off this author altogether!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Akin to my aversion now to any HF which has the woman’s back facing the reader or the title including a possessive noun “So-and-So’s Daughter/Wife insert relationship here”

        Like

      4. I’m with you 100% on both of those as well! Oh, and HF books with women who look like they stepped out of Vogue magazine last week with the amount of makeup they’re wearing!

        Liked by 1 person

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