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To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
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To Be Sung Underwater (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Tom McNeal

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258None44,210 (3.94)9
Member:crgalvin
Title:To Be Sung Underwater
Authors:Tom McNeal
Info:Little, Brown (2011), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Love, Relationships, Marriage, Contemporary fiction, Nebraska

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To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal (2011)

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I liked this book. Mostly. There's something about McNeil's writing style that appeals to me, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is. The story had plenty of interest to keep me reading and I could relate to just about all of the characters in a personal way. I know nothing about Nebraska, where the story is set, but the images are drawn well and I could make a picture of it in my head (which may or may not bear a resemblance to the real thing).

My only criticism, and it is a major reservation, is that the story does descend into a somewhat romantic phase towards the end. By that I primarily mean that McNeil allows the relationship between two characters to become unrealistic - everything around them happens in a way that is just perfect for the movement towards the ending. Having said that, the actual finish of the book is rather more satisfying and I was left with a feeling which had just the right balance of tension, pleasure, clarity, and doubt.

I have put McNeil's other adult fiction book on my wishlist. ( )
  oldblack | Nov 5, 2012 |
I wouldn't have found some of this story believable if I hadn't met someone who never got over a love he had. It's a very sad thing when someone can't let go and lets it take over their life. ( )
  MelissaMcB | Aug 19, 2012 |
I've been meaning to read Tom McNeal and am very glad to have done so. Judith is having a mid-life crisis. Despite a life which looks good from the outside, she is unmoored and looks back one year in Nebraska, her senior year in high school, and her intense first love affair with Willy Blunt. The story shifts from past to present culminating in a a real life merging of the two. The characters are likeable and believable, the writing is an example of simple and declarative and the sense of place during the Nebraska portions makes you feel like you're there. Although many reviewers didn't like the ending, to me, it range true. to me. ( )
  ccayne | Jul 26, 2012 |
Lovely read about Judith and Willy, star-crossed lovers whose fairy-tale relationship ends after Judith goes off to college in California, leaving Willy behind. Almost thirty years later, Judith's marriage is unraveling and her life is feeling hollower as each day passes. Willy enters her mind, and she decides to try and contact him and perhaps see what that will bring. What she finds when she returns to Nebraska will change her life. Moves back and forth between the teenage Judith and Willy and the adult versions, although this is all told from Judiths point of view. Beautiful writing, a poignant tale of love, self-discovery and redemption. ( )
  eenerd | Jul 5, 2012 |
This is the story of Judith, who’s now 44, with a teenage daughter. She made a safe, almost strategic marriage to Malcolm, an up and coming Stanford student, but still thinks occasionally of Willy Blunt, with whom she spent her last summer in Nebraska with when she was 17.

I quite enjoyed Judith’s narrative voice. Her job as a film editor gives her an interesting perspective on life’s ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’:

“There were times when Judith wondered if this explained her inclination to edit – how in film, unlike real life, you could always go back, and by deleting this and adding that, you could change the tone, change the outcome, change even the consequences. If such an act could be performed in real life – she had often thought this – how many crimes of passion might go undone, how many marriages might be saved.”
(pp. 83-84)

I had some reservations about the ending - it certainly wasn't what I expected, or what I wanted it to be, but upon reflection I think it was perhaps what it had to be to tell this story in this way, and to raise the questions that it did … ( )
  seekingflight | May 26, 2012 |
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for Laura and in memory of Bill Gerard
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The man sits hidden among pines on a bluff overlooking the grid of farms and county roads lying north.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316127396, Hardcover)

Judith Whitman always believed in the kind of love that "picks you up in Akron and sets you down in Rio." Long ago, she once experienced that love. Willy Blunt was a carpenter with a dry wit and a steadfast sense of honor. Marrying him seemed like a natural thing to promise. But Willy Blunt was not a person you could pick up in Nebraska and transport to Stanford. When Judith left home, she didn't look back.

Twenty years later, Judith's marriage is hazy with secrets. In her hand is what may be the phone number for the man who believed she meant it when she said she loved him. If she called, what would he say?

TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER is the epic love story of a woman trying to remember, and the man who could not even begin to forget.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:54 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Judith Whitman, in a marriage hazy with secrets, considers getting in touch with the love of her life from twenty years ago.

(summary from another edition)

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