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Review: A Note From An Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker

21 Sep

Note From an Old AcquaintanceMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A Note from an Old Acquaintance was a good read, and I enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, I’ve heard the story too many times before.

From Goodreads:

Brian Weller is a haunted man. It’s been two years since the tragic accident that left his three-year-old son dead and his wife in an irreversible coma. A popular author of mega- selling thrillers, Brian’s life has reached a crossroads: his new book is stalled, his wife’s prognosis is dire, and he teeters on the brink of despair.

Everything changes the morning an e- mail arrives from Boston artist Joanna Richman. Her heartfelt note brings back all the poignant memories: the night their eyes met, the fiery passion of their short- lived affair, and the agonizing moment he was forced to leave Joanna forever. Now, fifteen years later, the guilt and anger threaten to overwhelm him. Vowing to make things right, Brian arranges a book- signing tour that will take him back to Boston. He is eager to see Joanna again, but remains unsure where their reunion will lead. One thing is certain: the forces that tore their love asunder will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

The initial setup was very well done.  I was drawn into the story, and to Brian in particular.  I really liked Brian, both as a person I’d like to meet, and as a well drawn character.  I wanted to follow his story both in the initial 2006 section, and when we went back to 1991, when Joanna and Brian initially met.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Joanna.  I was intrigued by her in the 2006 part of the story, but once we went back to the start of their relationship, I didn’t understand her character and the decisions she made.

I did love the descriptions of her as an artist, and of her art.  These felt very real, and gave her character depth.

When the story started, I honestly didn’t know where it was going, and I liked that.  In the 1991 section, it didn’t take long to figure out exactly what was being set up.  Knowing what was coming didn’t make it unreadable– the book was well written enough that I enjoyed watching events unroll.

Still, I was relieved to return to 2006, where the book had been going so well.  Again, I wasn’t as clear where events were leading.

I don’t want to say too much, so I’ll just mention that there were two places I was afraid the story was going, and both of those possibilities were avoided.  Several other clichés weren’t.  The ending was weaker than I was hoping for.

Even with all that, I ended up satisfied with the book.

OA BookmarkI wanted to comment on the cover.  I really enjoyed it, which isn’t surprising– Bill Walker is a book cover designer  (check out his web page for information on his cover designs and on his other books).  I decided I needed a coordinating bookmark.  Here’s what I came up with.

I read this book as part of a blog tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotions.

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7 Comments

Posted by on September 21, 2009 in books, reviews, tour

 

Tags: , , ,

7 responses to “Review: A Note From An Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker

  1. tbbycatt

    September 22, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Great review ! Although I disagreed about the cover…it just didn’t do it for me.

    Marta
    Marta’s Meanderings

     
  2. Bill Walker

    September 22, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Dear Laura:

    Just wanted to thank you for your review. I confess I’m curious about the two points in the story you mentioned where I avoided going in the direction you thought it might be headed, but please private mail me about that so we avoid any plot spoilers for potential readers.

    Joanna’s character was a tough one to write. On the one hand, she still has feelings for Erik, even if it’s only a vestige of the love she once felt, and she is loath to just break it off. On the other hand, with Brian, she sees him as her true soul mate, someone who understands what she goes through to create her art–someone who stimulates her mind and someone who quite simply thrills her to the marrow. I put her on the horns of a true dilemma, torn between both men. Because of this I think there will be some people who empathize with her and some who will not. In some ways that’s the risk one takes when attempting to create characters that are not all cookie-cutter perfect.

    By the same token, it would have been easy to make her husband an out and out SOB, but would a truly sensitive and intelligent woman like Joanna have spent so many years clueless about a man like that? I don’t think so. And again, I wanted to give Erik some good qualities, qualities that Joanna would have seen and admired at 20, but has begun to question at 26, i.e. his unrelenting ambition.

    As far as my graphic design career goes, I’m not just a “cover designer.” I also design the text within. Often I’m hired only to do the text layout. For me, beyond what the cover accomplishes, this is the most important job. A bad layout can ruin an otherwise good book. My job, in this regard, is to remain invisible and not over-design. Above all, the text should be easy on the eye and invite the reader in to sit and stay awhile.

    Thanks again, Laura. I’m at gratified the book was ultimately satisfying for you.
    Bill-

     
    • Laura at Im Booking It

      September 22, 2009 at 11:21 pm

      Thanks very much for your comment.

      I appreciate the difficulties in writing complex characters, thanks for filling in more information.

      I apologize for the mistake in describing your career. I admit to not thinking about the layout inside the book, but I can see that it would make a big difference to the readability!

       
      • Bill Walker

        September 22, 2009 at 11:47 pm

        No apologies needed. And, yes, readability is all-important. Thanks again.

         
  3. Britt, Book Habitue

    September 22, 2009 at 9:16 am

    I need to start this one today.

    I love the cover, too. The bookmark you made is awesome!

     
  4. Belle

    September 22, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I love the book’s title – it implies so much!

     

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