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The Loved Ones by Mary-Beth Hughes
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The Loved Ones

by Mary-Beth Hughes

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The Loved Ones by Mary-Beth Hughes

Available from Atlantic Monthly Press June 2, 2015

Now, I’m all for a book that asks a bit more of readers. I’m up for a challenge when entering a fictional world. I love to interact with different voices that trust me to be intelligent, and to care enough about the time I’m spending with a book to pay attention. Deep attention. To become engaged with individual characters as if they were my friends, or people I’d love to know or know about.

This book seems to be reaching for that but doesn’t strike a good balance. It overreaches and in the process, turns into a confusing mess. It flips around quickly between characters remembered and “on stage,” so to speak, and characters that aren’t important to the narrative moment are intrusive rather than rendered seamlessly into the narrative.

It was like having someone tap you on the shoulder repeatedly while reading to ask you unrelated and irritatingly pointless questions. But since the interruptions arise from the text itself, you can’t ignore the tapping.

I couldn’t get far into this book before putting it down. I was very disappointed because the concept is exactly the kind of idea I love to read about. Here, though, the voice is too jumbled to follow. A little guidance from the author would have been appreciated.

I received an ARC from the publisher so I could write this review.

DNF: No star rating available.

If you like intelligent narratives and arresting plots, check out [b:The Family Made of Dust: A Novel of Loss and Rebirth in the Australian Outback|31692655|The Family Made of Dust A Novel of Loss and Rebirth in the Australian Outback|Laine Cunningham|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1472357358s/31692655.jpg|6308645].
  Laine-Cunningham | Oct 4, 2016 |
Disjointed, creepy book. I read it to the end, but didn't like it at all. An American family whose little boy has died moves to London in 1970 so the father can become an executive in a cosmetics company. The parents and their 14-year-old daughter all gradually fall apart. A straightforward narrative with this plot would have been so much more interesting. Depressing and so confusing; at times it almost made no sense. Not a book I could enjoy at all. ( )
  booksandscones | Jul 24, 2015 |
Wow. I just finished reading this title, and I would give it 3.5 stars if possible just because of the luminous writing. It was the best part of the book. The plot and the characters were less inspiring. Early on, I found the story compelling and fascinating. As the book progressed, I began to feel more and more unbalanced by the declining spiral of each of the character's lives. There wasn't one that I was still liking by the end. The time period may have much to do with their self focused attitudes. The 60's were a time for extravagant indulgence and experimentation with sex and drugs. The author plays this out very well through her choices in story telling. The gradual implosion of the this family's lives became for me, both a distraction as well as a magnet. I had to continue reading and give the author credit for creating that draw. Yet, by the end, I was exhausted and confused. The book held possibility, but I didn't fully appreciate or enjoy the direction or ending of this story.
If you are a fan of books with depressing characters, this might be a perfect read for you. Don't expect a lesson or moral at the end, or any real growth in the characters' lives. It is pretty bleak. I really appreciate the author's use of language, and I did like the book. I just didn't love it.
My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read and review this title. ( )
  c.archer | Jun 1, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802122493, Hardcover)

“A writer of dexterity and imagination.”—New York Times Book Review

The nationally best-selling Hughes returns with a darkly brilliant Mad Men-esque drama of family secrets and professional lies reminiscent of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road and James Salter’s Light Years.

From the outside in, the Devlin family lead almost-perfect lives. Dashing father, Nick, is a successful businessman long married to sweetheart Jean, who upholds the family home and throws dinner parties while daughter Lily attends Catholic school and is disciplined into modesty by the nuns. Under the surface, however, the Devlins are silently broken by the death of their little boy. As Nick’s older brother, a man driven by callous and rapacious urges, inducts Nick into the cut-throat world of cosmetics the Devlin family are further fragmented by betrayals, and victims of the cruelest kind of hurt.

In The Loved Ones Hughes takes her gimlet eye deep into the secret places between men and women to give an incisive portrayal of one family’s struggle to stay together against stacked odds of deception, adultery, and loss. Years in the making, this is Hughes’ astonishing and compulsively readable break out, a sweepingly cinematic novel of relationships defined by an era of glamour and decadence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:15 -0400)

From the outside in, the Devlin family lead almost perfect lives. Dashing father Nick is a successful businessman long married to sweetheart Jean, who upholds the family home and entertains, while daughter Lily attends Catholic school and is disciplined into modesty by the nuns. Under the surface, however, the Devlins are broken by the death of their little boy, Cubbie. When Nick's older brother, Lionel, a man driven by callous and rapacious urges, inducts Nick into the cutthroat world of cosmetics, Nick's sudden rise to the top brings the Devlin family to a fresh start in London, where they join the ranks of the city's social elite. But as the veneer of their glamorous new life abroad starts to wear thin, the Devlin family are further fragmented by betrayals and become victims of the cruelest kind of hurt.… (more)

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