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Cost by Roxana Robinson

Cost (2008)

by Roxana Robinson

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2801540,328 (3.63)28
  1. 01
    Dancing in the Kitchen by Susan Sterling (Publerati)
    Publerati: Great writing and interesting characters, each book features multiple locations including the state of Maine.

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
I had the library specially order this for me -as they could not get it from inter library loan they actually purchased it. I feel slightly guilty inflicting it on other people when I return it to the library.

It is pretty much a classic what-seems-like-it-will-tear-the-family-apart-actually- brings-it-closer story. It could have been a powerful story about addiction and how an entire family becomes caught in it's vortex. But somehow it wasn't. Partially it is because it takes place against a background of distressed barnwood. I understand this is to show that heroin addiction does not only occur among the working classes, that it can happen to any family, but somehow it falls a bit flat in its middle-class earnestness.

Part of the problem is the over use of descriptive language- we know what every character was wearing in every scene, and the decor of every room, particularly in the 'shabby-chic' Maine summer home. The over use of adjectives ans similes is a pet hate of mine, and I knew trouble was ahead when every ingredient in a ham sandwich in the opening chapter is described, from the 'translucent, succulent meat' to the tomato with its 'juicy scarlet core' to the slices of bread spread with mayonnaise like 'marble tiles'. ( )
  dylkit | Feb 3, 2014 |
The characters in the book are all very wooden, stereotypical and unlikeable. As an example older parents who don't know what is going on and can't cope with change or retirement. Daughter who wonders whether to put them in a home until she has a problem with her son -- a heroin addict who lies and steals from her. Daughter who doesn't want to take things from her father except that she had a priviledged life and education and is now an art professor at Columbia. There is no one to care about here and I don't understand all the praise this novel received. ( )
  VictoriaNH | Mar 29, 2013 |
I really struggled through this book and was very disappointed. It really sounded as if It would be a book I could sink my teeth into. Ummm..no...failure. It bored me and I was really trying to get pass all the parts in the story that I felt really had nothing to do with what the story was suppose to be about. A few chapters were really riveting but when you have a book of over 400 pages a few chapters of fantastic writing does no good. Slow and WTF at times I just didn't care for the writing nor the characters. ( )
  justablondemoment | Feb 21, 2013 |
Julie goes to stay in her beach house in Maine, with her parents coming to visit. Julie had already expected some problems, her parents are getting older, but there is a greater blow in store. In times of crisis, blood is thicker than water, but seeing their loved ones suffer pushes these ties to breaking point.

Robinson brings together a family under great strain, which is all to realistic. Julie and her ex-husband, like many middle-class parents are struggling to understand why their younger son went off the rails, when his brother didn't. Steven is bitter, tired of bailing out Jack, his younger brother. There are also unaired grievances between Julie and her sister, a wedge that has kept them apart. Their high-flying father is finding retirement difficult, both because he has plenty of time to reflect on his career and the decisions he made as well as watching his wife's Alzheimer's getting worse.

What makes this book so compelling is the way Robinson shifts the narrative from character to character, giving us the story from all sides, the saddest of which being the ever more confused thoughts of Julie's mother. Highly recommended. ( )
  soffitta1 | Jan 27, 2012 |
Early in Roxana Robinson’s “Cost” we learn of Edward Lambert that he enjoyed finding fault, it made him feel competent and sure of himself, useful. Finding what was wrong with a certain situation, person, or idea put him in control, and made him superior. We feel for his grown daughter, Julia, a New York artist and college professor, and understand why his presence at her Maine summer home puts her on edge, and makes her resent him.

In this realistic, perfectly-paced novel, Ms. Robinson presents the tragic story of loss accompanying the deadly heroin habit of Julia’s son Jack, which wraps the family up in his inexorable downward spiral. It starts with Edward. He has sailed through his life as a distinguished brain surgeon; he loves the prestige and the notoriety, and the power this gives him; he has developed a powerful ego. He sees himself as a virtuous standard, a member of an extremely exclusive society, but very late in life his wife’s fading faculties trigger worry and memories that begin to tell him and us a different tale. The leucotomies, the enforced surgeries on mental patients, the use of humans as little more than experimental subjects, these all come back to him, and as the trying events of his grandson’s drug habit proceed beyond his control, he begins to understand his own failing facilities, and wonders if he really was as fine an individual as he liked to believe.

This story recounts the unbearable cost of the young man’s heroin addiction, in terms of heartbreak and financial capital, and it may cost him his life if he can’t kick it. However, there’s another cost running through this plainly- and effectively-told tale. The toxicity flowing from Edward, the embittered and estranged patriarch, generates coldness and distance in his offspring. His two daughters, Julia and Harriet, barely speak, and their brother is nowhere to be found at this time of family crisis (he lives on the opposite coast). This negativity and mistrust lead directly to Jack’s addiction. His suffering is the cost of the way this family behaves; he needs to be emotionally elsewhere, not part of this family.

“Cost” thus holds up the unfeeling Lambert family for our review, at odds, unloving, ultimately ineffective in dealing with its youngest member’s crisis. The author seamlessly shifts points of view, so that we get internal dialogs from all major characters. These are perfect. They guide us through the treacherous waters of this family strife, and we end understanding all. Ms. Robinson’s powerful novel exposes this fractured family at its worst time; it is artfully, thoroughly done, and so harrowingly real. A serious, excellent, and thought-provoking piece. ( )
  LukeS | May 8, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Robinson has been perennially and somewhat reductively tagged a chronicler of WASP life. This designation, while factually accurate — as is the observation that her stories regularly address parenting and marital issues — doesn’t do her justice. These subjects — WASP life, domestic life — are often used as code for “small,” in the sense of both trivial and mean, and Robinson’s fiction is neither. In writing about characters whose lives are constrained, she makes them loom large.
added by LiteraryFiction | editNew York Times, Leah Hager Cohen (pay site) (Jun 22, 2008)
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Book description
An already fractured family further torn by son's heroin addiction.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374271879, Hardcover)


When Julia Lambert, an art professor, settles into her idyllic Maine house for the summer, she plans to spend the time tending her fragile relationships with her father, a repressive neurosurgeon, and her gentle mother, who is descending into Alzheimer’s. But a shattering revelation intrudes: Julia’s son Jack has spiraled into heroin addiction.

In an attempt to save him, Julia marshals help from her looseknit clan: elderly parents; remarried ex-husband; removed sister; and combative eldest son. Ultimately, heroin courses through the characters’ lives with an impersonal and devastating energy, sweeping the family into a world in which deceit, crime, and fear are part of daily life.

Roxana Robinson is the author of Sweetwater, which Booklist called a “hold-your-breath novel of loss and love.” Billy Collins praised Robinson as “a master at moving from the art of description to the work of excavating the truths about ourselves.”

In Cost, Robinson tackles addiction and explores its effects on the bonds of family, dazzling us with her hallmark subtlety and precision in evoking the emotional interiors of her characters. The result is a work in which the reader’s sense of discovery and compassion for every character remains unflagging to the end, even as the reader, like the characters, is caught up in Cost’s breathtaking pace.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:44 -0400)

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Settling into her parents' home in Maine hoping to help them with their respective health challenges, art professor Julie Lambert is shattered by the discovery of her son's heroin addiction.

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