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The Carolyne Letters: A Story of Birth,…
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The Carolyne Letters: A Story of Birth, Abortion and Adoption

by Abigail B. Calkin

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Abigail B. Calkin’s The Carolyne Letters looked to be an intriguing story of a young woman facing an unexpected pregnancy — a situation made all the more difficult in 1964. I went into the novel hoping to be moved and enthralled . . . and certainly bonded to Amelia. But I was disappointed.

The key to this novel’s success hinges on us feeling — really feeling — for Amelia, our unlikely mother-to-be. The tension is derived from questioning her motives, her future: will she or won’t she? Told in a dated diary-like format with passages both short and long, we experience heartache and obsession with Amelia for the first 70 pages or so. Geoff loves her, he loves her not . . . and the whole book reads like the first-love manifestos we have all probably penned ourselves at some point. That would have been okay — a little repetitive and annoying, really, but fine — if we’d eventually moved beyond it. We just never did.

As a whole, I didn’t take a shine to the writing style or characters. Amelia seems melodramatic, serious, almost manic in her musings about life and love. Like anyone facing a life-altering decision, she vacillates between all three choices for this child — adoption, birth, abortion — and has little assistance from friends or Geoff-on-a-pedestal during the process. We never got a feel for the object of her affection, mostly because Geoff is a self-important, condescending clown. I wanted to like Amelia, and wanted to feel for her, but it was hard to relate to someone so in love with an epic tool. Seriously, the dude is no good.

I appreciated the unique nature of this book and did get more invested in Amelia’s fate as we moved through the story, but it never quite worked for me. I read idly and was mostly disinterested, honestly, but I did finish. Because such an emotional issue is at its core, I expected The Carolyne Letters to wrap its little paperback fingers around my heart and hold on — but I appreciated the overarching themes more than the story itself. It was literary, sure, but just had little soul. ( )
  writemeg | Sep 17, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0761000607, Paperback)

Amelia: young, naive, in love. Geoff: charming, narcissistic, intelligent. In a decidedly European affair, a young couple consummates a courtship destined for differences. The resultant pregnancy provides a haunting yet charming backdrop for the challenges of love and its often unwanted decisions. 1994 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist Abigail B. Calkin has created such a rich and picturesque setting that The Carolyne Letters literally breathes life--life in all its splendor, simplicity and complexity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:34 -0400)

Amelia: young, naive, in love. Geoff: charming, narcissistic, intelligent. In a decidedly European affair, a young couple consummates a courtship destined for differences. The resultant pregnancy provides a haunting yet charming backdrop for the challenges of love and its often unwanted decisions.… (more)

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