24/06/2009

Turning Point (by Bowering Sivers)

I'd never heard of Bowering Sivers. I wasn't sure I even believed her name was real when Amazon recommended this book highly to me. And, as it turns out, her real name is the much more likely-sounding Brenda Bowering. She's apparently well-known as a children's writer, which perhaps accounts for the modern and slightly bizarre-sounding psueudonym.

I was looking forward to a light, humorous novel when I started 'Turning Point', based on the reviews on the front cover, one line of which states: 'It bubbles with humour on every page.' The blurb on the back sounded good too: Ruth re-thinks her life, and has to decide what to do about two young men who come into her life....

Ruth is 44. As the novel opens, she is recovering from an unexpected heart attack. She is single, although she nearly got married over twenty years previously. But now she lives with her widowed mother, with whom she has a strange and somewhat co-dependent relationship. The heart attack is the catalyst for some re-thinking of her future, and an attempt to get out of the rut in which she finds herself... although she's reluctant to do so.

She's aided in this by a rather charming theatre director called Ian, one of the young men mentioned on the back. But she is equally hampered by her spoilt brother Matthew, who is a struggling and very selfish actor. While their mother seems to rely on Ruth and manipulates her into staying with her, it's Matthew who is given financial hand-outs and allowed to behave as badly as he wishes. I really didn't like Matthew at all.

I did like Ruth, however. Just as well, since it's her story. Unfortunately I found most of the other characters to be rather typecast and flat. The story flowed fairly well - I kept reading to find out what happened, although it wasn't the most inspiring writing - but I could see the climax of the book coming some time before it did. And I didn't find much to laugh about. Yes, Ruth's occaional ascerbic wit and terrible self-esteem sometimes made me smile, but I certainly didn't find any bubbly humour. Rather the reverse, I felt. Ruth's situation was quite depressing.

The ending then happened rather quickly, and much too neatly. I like threads being tidied up at the end of novels, but they didn't hang together in this book. Both Matthew and Ruth appeared to change character in the final pages,leaving me a little bewildered.

Still, it's not bad for light, easy reading, for anyone who enjoys women's fiction, particularly if you have any interest in the theatre. I was pleased that, compared to many modern novels there is very little bad language, and only a couple of fairly mild bedroom scenes.

I may well read it again in five or six years, and perhaps will like it better second time around. Most reviews I've seen of this book were overwhelmingly positive, so it's entirely possible I've missed something.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 24th June 2009

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