Friday, October 22, 2010

October Book Club -- Book Review: The Sunflower by Richard Paul Evans

The Sunflower: A NovelThe Sunflower: A Novel by Richard Paul Evans

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book Source: Public library

Summary: In the wake of personal tragedy, two people meet on a humanitarian mission in Peru. Christine is a shy, unadventurous woman whose fiancee broke off the engagement only a week before the wedding, and Paul is a former emergency room doctor whose glamorous lifestyle, stellar reputation, and beautiful fiancée are cruelly snatched from him one fateful, snowy Christmas Eve. Deep in the Amazon jungle, against a backdrop of poverty and heartbreak, they must confront their deepest fears and, together, learn to trust and love again.

This was a simple book. Nothing particularly overwhelming or underwhelming. His novellas (because I have a hard time categorizing them as novels), are thin on substance -- he has enough material to hold your attention for one afternoon, but not for any extended period of time. His characters are likable, but not very three dimensional. And some of the plot twists seem contrived. One problem I had with this particular story was his use of food. The characters are in the jungle, mountains and cities of Peru, but they seem to be eating very American food – pizza, spaghetti, garlic bread. I want to trust the writer and believe that the Peruvians really eat these things – but it was a stretch for me. Additionally, the reader is lead to believe that part of this story is true -- but at the end, I still wasn't convinced.

This is the second Richard Paul Evans’ book that I have read, and I don’t think I need to read another.

This was also our October book club choice. I think for the most part, the group agreed with my assessment. I know some actually appreciated the brevity of this book, because it was a quick read! The discussion was OK – since the substance of this book was thin – it was hard for us to really delve into the characters, plot, story – but we managed to make it interesting, nonetheless.

Aside from the discussion, we were able to plan our book club selections for next year, something that is a departure from our normal routine. Since our local library has added nearly 100 book club kits to their collection, they’ve asked the participating book clubs to reserve them in advance. So we are trying to follow suit. Here are our choices, in no particular order, since that is determined by the library book club director and their availability:

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carlson
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Zookeepers Wife by Diane Ackerman

For November, we are reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.

Loving Frank

Has anyone read this?

View all my reviews


alisonwonderland said...

I've read two Richard Paul Evans' books - The Locket and The Letter - with two different book groups. I think "nothing particularly overwhelming or underwhelming" describes them both. I did hear him speak once, and I enjoyed that.

I've never been part of a book club that has planned a whole year in advance, although I know of many that do. I always like to look at those lists!

I've read both The Glass Castle and Skeletons at the Feast with my long-time book club, and I think those are great picks. The others on your list that I've read are The Help, Nineteen Minutes, and The Zookeeper's Wife. I liked all three. (Does your group know how you felt about The Help?) I think I've got all the others on my to-read list, so I'll be interested in finding out what you think.

I haven't read Loving Frank, but it's been on my to-read list for a while too, upon the recommendation of a friend.

Happy reading!

Becca said...

So, I started "Loving Frank" yesterday and so far, so good! In fact, I found myself on Wikipedia last night looking up the houses in the book and reading about his life. Now knowing a little more about Wright makes me excited to get farther into the book.

Amused said...

We read Loving Frank for my bookclub a few years ago - it was a big hit! I really liked it. I think if you like architecture you might find it fascinating to learn more about the man. As a mother you might find the woman in the story to be very controversial which is why it's a good book for a discussion!

Emma Michaels said...

New follower!!!

Emma Michaels

Julie said...

I haven't read "Loving Frank" (actually, had not heard of it til now) .. looking forward to seeing what you think of it.

The Sunflower's blurb seems like it would be an interesting book - it's too bad that it seemed not to live up to it.

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries