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Some Other Town: A Novel by Elizabeth…

Some Other Town: A Novel

by Elizabeth Collison

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Some Other Town by Elizabeth Collison is a highly recommended, surrealistic novel about a woman who has fallen in love.

Margaret Benning, 28, has bought a stone house on Mott Street and settled into the same town where she attended college. She lives next door to Mrs. Eberline, a woman who is likely insane and certainly has the potential to cause some serious trouble. Margaret works for the Project, a grant funded business devoted to writing beginning readers for children. The Project is located on the grounds of what was a sanatorium for TB patients. It is still referred to as the Sanatorium even though it now is the home for a wide variety of endeavors and programs.

Three months ago Margaret broke up with Ben Adams, a visiting art professor that she met at a gallery opening. Ben, 16 years her senior, could have been the love of her life, but she hasn't heard from him in 3 months. Mrs. Eberline is demanding that she go find him, insisting that Ben is in danger, but Margaret seems hesitant, perhaps because Ben was married or perhaps it was from their last encounter.

The writing in Some Other Town has a dream-like, ethereal quality. I began to question what was real, and wondered what parts should I take note of and what characters should I care about. I briefly speculated that all the characters were ghosts. While Collison's writing quality is quite good, it seems that something was not quite hitting the mark for me in the presentation. It could be the dream-like detachment she has given to Margaret and Ben in the novel permeated how I felt about it. We hear both of their voices, but mainly it is Margaret's voice you will be paying attention to.

Margaret seems strangely detached from everything, which, although it is explained by the ending, did make it hard to care about her through the whole novel. I couldn't understand why Margaret wasn't calling the police on Mrs. Eberline. There is no way someone would ever tolerate that behavior from a neighbor. The encounters between her co-workers at The Project provided some much needed comic relief, but even then Margaret wasn't engaged with them - even though the reader is seemingly expected to care about their antics.

In some respects, the ending gave me more respect for the book than I initially had. The problem is that some readers are not going to stick with the book to get to that ending. Yes, it is technically very well written, almost poetic at times, but it is also an unconventional presentation that requires readers to take note of everything and care about the characters in spite of the enigmatic qualities of the novel. 3.5

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes. ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062348825, Paperback)

Channeling the emotional intensity of Susan Minot and Amy Bloom—and infused with a witty, dream-like surrealism reminiscent of Margaret Atwood—this mesmerizing debut takes us inside the unsettling world of Margaret Lydia Benning, which turns upside down when she falls in love…and then unravels before our eyes.

“What I have to tell Ben is just this. At last I am certain. All the signs, all the dreams are in. And I know now I have made a terrible mistake. I was wrong, it turns out, about us.”

Margaret Lydia Benning lives adrift in the same Midwest town where she went to college. By day, she works at a low-level job for the Project, a university-sponsored educational publisher housed in a former sanatorium. There she shares the fourth floor with a squadron of eccentric editors and a resident ghost from the screamers’ wing. At night, Margaret returns to her small house on Mott Street, resigned to the disturbing overtures of her strange neighbor, Mrs. Eberline.

Emotionally sleepwalking through the days is no way to lead a life. But then Margaret meets Ben Adams, a visiting professor of art at the university. Despite the odds—and their best intentions—Margaret and her professor become lovers, and she glimpses a future she had never before imagined. For the first time, she has hope…until Ben inexplicably vanishes. In the wake of his disappearance, Margaret sets out to find him. Her journey will force her to question everything she believes to be true.

Told through intertwined perspectives, by turns incandescent and haunting, Some Other Town is an unforgettable tale, with a heart-breaking twist, of one woman’s awakening to her own possibility—and her ability to love, and love well.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:42 -0400)

Channeling the emotional intensity of Susan Minot and Amy Bloom--and infused with a witty, dream-like surrealism that calls to mind the fiction of Margaret Atwood--this mesmerizing debut takes us inside the enthrallingly unsettling world of Margaret Lydia Benning, which turns upside down when she falls in love...and then unravels before our eyes.… (more)

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