October 19, 2010

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie (Audiobook): Review

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Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie is a book with an identity crisis. Is it a ghost story, a comedy, a romance? I don't know and I don't think it knows either.

Andie Miller is finally saying hasta la vista to her ex-husband, lawyer North Archer. It's been 10 years but she's ready to move on and get married. While she's in his office giving him his uncashed alimony cheques back, he offers her a job. If she agrees to get his 2 young wards ready to move out of their house in southern Ohio, he'll pay her $10000. How can she say no?

There's a catch. The kids are a little strange, sure, but the previous nannies insist that the house is haunted. The house does give off a creepy vibe, hidden in the woods as it is, and the housekeeper is all kinds of drunk and weird. Practical Andie is having none of it and sets out to get these kids out of the house. But...

There really are ghosts that Andie can see and one of them talks to her. Is she crazy or is this for real?

The book has great potential: two odd kids, an old house, crazy housekeeper, possible ghosts and a no nonsense babysitter. All good stuff. And all been done before. Maybe This Time is a retelling of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James- my nemesis- who I'm thinking I should give another try just to see if he did this story better.

The story was alright until just after the first seance and then it comes off the rails. If the ghosts are going to be spooky, then they should all be spooky, not explain-y. One ghost kept explaining unnecessary things to Andie. At one point, in an earlier scene, another character finds out a minor detail that the ghost later tells Andie. It wasn't needed and was kinda annoying. Spoiler (highlight): There's a big manifestation near the end that had me thinking, is that it?

There were comical bits that were enjoyable and I don't think there is anything wrong with a funny, friendly ghost and it is possible to do it well. Sophie Kinsella did an excellent job with one in Twenties Girl. The problem is Maybe This Time tries to wear too many hats by being funny, spooky and romantic. It didn't work for me.

That's not to say that Crusie isn't an excellent writer. Her characters are three dimensional and she writes a kick ass heroine. The dialogue is snappy as well. But the plot... the plot... needs a direction.

I try to recommend books to certain groups but I'm finding it hard to do so. I guess if you are a Jennifer Crusie fan, you'll want to add it to your shelf.

About the Audiobook: Narrated by Angela Dawe. PS- Hearing sex scenes read is weird!

Borrowed from library.

Edit: Yeah, I know the url says Maybe Next Time. That's 'cause I'm an idiot.

10 comments :

  1. Two out of three times you used the title, you said, "Maybe Next Time." The cover says, "Maybe This Time." That's funny! Maybe the book was seriously confusing! Even the title isn't quite clear. : )

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  2. I'm not sure this would work for me either.

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  3. I've go this one in line for December. This seems to be one of those ones that is split. Some people love it and some people hate it. I had to laugh at your comment about hearing sex scenes. I haven't encountered that yet, but I can imagine it might be a little strange.

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  4. Bonnie- Oh crap! Thanks, I fixed it. Guess I was thinking 'maybe next time, I'll try a Crusie without ghosts.' I'm surprised I didn't have "Cruise" in the review. I had to stop myself from doing that every time!

    Teresa- Yeah, reading them is one thing but hearing it made me feel like I was doing something illegal! lol!

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  5. The mistake in url is ironic in a way, "maybe next time - her writing will catch me"!

    I've read a few positive reviews of this book so it's nice to read a less-so one for the balance. I wasn't aware that the story is a re-telling.

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  6. I enjoyed this one, but I can understand why you didn't. All in all, I'm curious to try out more Crusie.

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  7. Have you read Jennifer Crusie before? I have been a fan of hers for a long time. Her last four or five books have been collaborations so when this one came out and it was a stand alone book I was very exciting.

    I am reading it at the moment, and I am liking it, but not loving it so far. I will keep an eye out for the scene where it didn't work for you from.

    I know what you mean about it being awkward to listen to sex scenes! With one of Jennifer Crusie's earlier books, I had read it, but then I listened to it again on audio. Before getting to the sex scenes I had lent it to a very conservative uptight friend, and then I was listening to it, and it was so much more explicit listening to it than it was to read it! I was a little mortified and kept on wondering when she was going to talk to me about it!

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  8. Charlie- I am a bit of a critical reader when it comes to ghost stories. I'm very picky.

    Swapna- Glad you liked it!

    Marg- I read Bet Me and I liked that one. I think she a good writer but this one didn't do it for me. I always feel weird lending books with graphic scenes to my Mom and Mother-in-law but they've lent me some doozies before too!

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  9. Not really my kind of book, but your review will assure that I really don't give it a try...

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  10. I've read a bunch of Jennifer Crusie's other books and wasn't sure about this one when I first heard about it. I'll probably end up reading it eventually but it doesn't sound like it'll be my favorite of hers. It's worth a shot!

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