Hello from The Strand! I can spend hours in this book store. It's one of my favorites. This book, however, is not one of my favorites. Still Lives hasn’t technically been released yet, but BOTM used it as a May selection. Basically, a famous artist goes missing on the opening night of her museum exhibition and Hummel’s narrator (Maggie) gets really, really involved. She puts herself in near-death scenarios…for what? Hummel tells us that Maggie’s ex-boyfriend (Greg) became a suspect in the artist’s disappearance, so Maggie wants to exonerate him by finding the real perpetrator. This makes no sense because in the months prior to the artist's disappearance, Greg inexplicably left Maggie for another woman. WHY IN GOD’S NAME does Maggie continue to protect Greg throughout the book?? And WHY ON EARTH does she flirt with Greg in cringy/corny ways after he smashed/trashed/gashed her heart? I don’t follow.
The second thing that REALLY bothers me about this book is the way Maria Hummel describes groups of women. The main character frequently attends a “craft club” with other women (I don’t think this is meant to be ironic). Hummel’s descriptions of the other women in craft club make me want to implode: “Yegina is always the funny, bossy one; Lisa and MeiMei brim with gullible empathy, Evie has a passion for Hollywood gossip, Jayme warily steers us from too much cattiness, Dee makes spacey remarks…” Yikes. This is the only group of women in the novel and we are given a woman who is “bossy,” two who are “gullible,” one who has a “passion for gossip,” and another who always “makes spacey remarks.” The best we can hope for is Jayme (who gets a gold medal for steering other women away from “too much cattiness”). THESE ARE ESSENTIALLY ALL THE FEMALE CHARACTERS IN HER BOOK. I struggle.
This title is officially released June 5, 2018. No need to run out and buy it.