Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wild life - By Susan Wells Bennett

Wild life is a book that intrigued me from the very beginning, starting with its title. Usually the title of a book would give away a little of its “soul”, tell the reader what to expect… all I could glean from this one was that the book had something to do with animals. And since I love animals, I set to reading it with enthusiasm.
Just to discover that Wild Life became more intriguing by the minute. Every time I thought I had it pegged down to one genre, the story would have some new twist that would somewhat change it, always keeping me on a razor edge about how it would end.
There are so many things I loved about it that I’m finding it difficult to list them all.
First and foremost, the style in which the book is written, clean, flowing, at times downright ironical and amusing, at times meditative or even sad, but always in tone with the events.
Then the characters… they come to life, page after page, making you feel like you’ve always known them, and making you feel for them and with them. Claire and Sondra are very different from each other, and yet each is so vivid and “true” to the last detail. And while being a middle aged man, Milo is also the sort of “hero” a reader will find it difficult to forget. And behind all of them, in the background but always very much present, there are the zoo animals that give the book its title.
A zoo is an unusual setting for a book, and yet even if it is a little startling in the beginning, it soon becomes the natural stage for the characters to move on, even Sondra, who’s clearly more at ease in a bar than in a zoo.
And last but not least, the blending of genres. At the beginning, I thought I was reading a romance, very well written and very unusual, but a romance nonetheless, so I expected the book to develop on the lines of a romance… what I did not foresee nor expect was that what I was discovering about the personal life of the main character would lead to a blending of romance and mystery, brought into being with the utmost ability, with no hanging leads and while maintaining coherence to the whole story.
Definitely, this is a very good novel, which I would set at the same level with the works of the best authors of both genres I have read, and that I highly recommend reading.

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