Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review: Emily and Einstein (dog, partly romance novel)

Emily and Einstein: A novel of second chances, by Linda Lee (St. Martin’s Press, 2011, 356 pages, $24.99)

In a Flash

Linda Lee’s astonishing creative ability results in a simple yet convoluted story of a 30-something Emily and a scruffy dog Einstein: I would love to read one of Lee’s (future?) mysteries if they too have a dog as a major character.

I first saw Emily and Einstein at my public library and may have even checked it out but never got around to reading it, so when I spied it at Dogwise (www.dogwise.com), I purchased it in a flash.

Titles and Covers

What a fun title! I quickly figured out that Einstein was the dog, and, being a fan of the real Einstein, I was intrigued, even if the dog on the cover was neither a Lab nor a Golden.

Book covers are fascinating and fun. Emily and Einstein has three different book covers, each one intriguing, each featuring Einstein.

Life and Love and The Dakota and. . . .

Emily and Einstein is all about life and love and a dog who saves a woman whose husband recently died. A bit of a tear-jerker, at least at the end, Emily and Einstein is about many things, but not too many – the New York City marathon, art galleries, a famous Women’s Lib mother, an apartment in the also famous Dakota apartment building in New York City where John Lennon lived, a sister (book editor) who is organized and everyone’s friend, and a sister who is the opposite (who gallivants around abroad working for non-profits until she runs out of money and has to return home for loans). Emily is a book about books with numerous ‘ends’ that all miraculously tie in in the end – I had to keep reading faster and faster to find out how it would end!

An intriguing book with different fonts for chapters ‘written’ by alternating characters. “Prefaces” to Emily’s chapters written come from a book titled, My Mother’s Daughter, an intriguing title on its own, and slightly familiar. I kept telling myself I just had to Google it (but never got around to it).

Unbelievable, but. . . .

Unfortunately, I don’t believe the author did her homework on running a marathon (this comes from a reviewer who HAS run a marathon). Emily’s being able to work as an editor almost when she pleases is a bit far-fetched and her lack of concern about being evicted from the Dakota is something to only strive for.

The book tries to be a romance novel at times but the fact that it doesn’t succeed is to its credit. Lee writes mechanically well but, instead of showing us her characters, she tells us about them, making them cardboard characters rather than pulling us into the story. We remain outside.

However, the characters are all formulaically human, even Einstein – they all have flaws, so they are quasi-believable. But, despite the twists and turns, Emily and Einstein lacks the magic of a book to love. It was a long read. Perhaps Lee could pair up with a good writer next time.

(Disclaimer: This book was purchased for review. Many other sources, including Amazon, will give you a summary of the story.)

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