Today's Blog Tour Stop is a guest post at Lehua Parker.
The Housekeeper's Son Book Review
When 72-year-old housekeeper, Eleanor Ethel Rose, is found with a bloody knife in her hand beside the dead body of Katherine Cunningham, her employer's 12-year-old daughter, she quickly admits to the crime and surrenders herself, pleading guilty before her trial even begins. But to Victor Lee, a young and ambitious journalist who is assigned to cover the story, there is more to Eleanor's confession. Through his interviews with Eleanor within the confines of the penitentiary's visiting hall, Victor pushes for the truth and finds himself drawn into her world where the line between right and wrong is blur-nothing is what it seems. What he discovers is a secret that, if revealed, will not only explain Katherine's death, it will also challenge the moral obligation of every mother to her child. It is a secret that started 42 years ago on the night Eleanor took the life of her only son. The Housekeeper's Son is a novel that explores the power and vulnerability of a mother's love for her child.
The Housekeeper's Son by Chris Loke was written by my fellow Jolly Fish Press author and indeed, the CEO of the publishing company himself. Because of that, and due to the fact that I found the synopsis intriguing, I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me.
Don't get me wrong, it had some excellent aspects. Loke is a talented writer with an elegant writing style. The story was set up in a clever way that leaves the reader constantly wanting to find out what really happened both in Eleanor's past and in the more present mystery. It was that which kept me reading and helped me finish the book. The characters were very literary, and anyone who is a fan of this type of fiction will probably enjoy them. I found Eleanor to be both compelling and intriguing.
However, there were other aspects of the book that turned me off to it. It's chalk-full of brazen bipartisan politics, thinly veiled if at all. Because my political views differ from Loke's, I didn't appreciate their presence in the story. I also wasn't a fan of the way the small, LDS community was painted. I recently had a fellow blogger tell me she didn't like Beautiful Creatures because it painted all southerners in a negative, backward, superstitious light. It's a cliche, one that perpetuates negative stereotypes. While I really enjoyed Beautiful Creatures (my review HERE), I completely understood that point of view. That's how I felt about The Housekeeper's Son. While every socio-economic or religious group has its bad apples, I didn't particularly appreciate the negative way this small community was portrayed. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
I also thought the pace was a bit slow. There were two kinds of chapters in the book. Most were written in third person, which I usually prefer and write in myself. Any part written from the POV of the journalist interviewing Eleanor, however, was written in first person. Loke's first person was far more compelling than his third person, and much easier to read. I found myself wishing the entire book was written that way.
Overall, I appreciated the story and the characters and found their motivations intriguing. Anyone interested in literary fiction, twisted families, and intriguing mysteries might enjoy this novel. :D As I said, it simply wasn't for me.
Has anyone else read The Housekeeper's Son? What did you think of it?