I just finished reading The Novelist by Angela Hunt. I thought I'd take time to review it here. Angela Hunt was the teacher of the Advanced Fiction Track at the Florida Christian Writer's Conference which I had the privilege of attending this past spring.
She spoke of this book and the writing of it during the class. Having been her student for a few days, it was easy to see the similarities between her protagonist, Jordan Casey Kerrigan, and herself.
From the back cover
It begins when a smug college student challenges a best-selling novelist to write something "more personal."
It begins when a mother finds her troubled son slumped unconscious outside her home.
It begins when fiction and reality blur, and the novelist finds herself caught somewhere in the middle of it all.
Where does it end? That all depends on who is telling the story.
Things I loved about this book:
Angela has a great turn of phrase. Her similies and metaphors are so vivid. I found myself re-reading them just because the words were so well put together.
I stayed up late reading this one, to find out about Zack. His behavior was so erratic and obviously distressing to him that I felt for him, even when he was at his most bombastic and obnoxious. I also felt for Jordan and Carl as they came to grips with mental illness and whatever stigmas cling to it.
The character of Ian Morely intrigued me as well. He was challenging, clever and caught in his own web of trouble. I disliked him intensely at the beginning of the book, because I've had sarcastic, 'know-it-all' students before and know what a pain they can be, but when he submitted Jordan's own work for critique, he cracked me up.
Having the true antagonist be mental illness and our reaction to it made this book different from my usual reads.
Things I didn't like so well:
I gotta say, the novella about William that is woven through the book...well, for me it was not enjoyable. Allegory is never my preference, so that made it a difficult read to begin with. The fact that I could read and enjoy the rest of the story by skipping the allegory, made me wonder if it was vital to the plot at all. Although it was a learning journey for Jordan, the technique was lost on me. I am glad the publisher used two different font styles between the two story lines. It made skipping the allegory easier.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, for a couple reasons. Angela Hunt is a good writer. The story is compelling and entertaining.
There was one other interesting thing in this book. A quote about the book from Publisher's Weekly: "Although Hunt is known for her competency, this novel also shows poignancy and imagination." Why would the publisher include this? It sounds like nothing else Angela has ever written has any imagination or emotion, but rather reads like a competent essay. I thought that one was odd, particularly since the rest of the 'Praise for The Novelist' was of a much different tone.
I reached 40K words on the novel today. I'm at the point where I feel I need to go back to the beginning and add all the scenes I know I've skipped. But I'm going to try to resist, to plow ahead and get a complete first draft done.