Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Book Review: SIRACUSA by Delia Ephron


Title: Siracusa
Author: Delia Ephron
Publisher: Penguin Group
Read: July 2016
Expected publication: 12 July 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

An electrifying novel about marriage and deceit from bestselling author Delia Ephron that follows two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from each other are exposed and relationships are unraveled.

New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage.

With her inimitable psychological astuteness, and uncanny understanding of the human heart, Ephron delivers a powerful meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusaunfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none can see coming. 

My thoughts:

Siracusa, a lovely historic seaside town in Sicily, forms the backdrop of this novel, but this is where the beauty ends because the five  characters we are about to meet are anything other than lovely. Two couples have decided to holiday together – Michael is married to Lizzie, and Finn is married to Taylor, but none of them seems happy in their relationship. Neither does Finn and Taylor’s 10-year-old daughter Snow, who appears deeply disturbed and somewhat odd, and very much under Taylor’s wings. As the couples discover how much they dislike each other and their spouses, another person comes into the picture – a person who will shake up their less than idyllic seaside holiday, which ultimately can only end in tragedy.

What a field day any marriage counsellor would have with this lot! How these people are still married is beyond me – there is plenty of lying and cheating and hatefulness between the spouses, and if that wasn’t enough, the two couples don’t even like their friends that much either. Except Finn and Lizzie, who used to be a couple a long time ago and are still good mates, much to the chagrin of their partners. It is obvious from the start that this cannot end well and that there will be plenty of friction, even without the one big skeleton in the closet one of the characters brings into the mix. And then there is Snow, who frankly is plain weird, and in need of some serious therapy herself. Ugh, what a mix of dysfunctional people the author has created here! Which makes for strangely compelling reading, even though none of them is likeable – except perhaps Lizzie, who seems to be the only one trying to make the holiday work and rekindle the spark in her marriage to Michael. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I was compelled to read on to the nasty finale – because let’s face it, it could only end in tragedy -  so kudos to the author for keeping the reader hooked despite her characters’ many flaws.

I cannot claim that I liked this book very much, but I admired the author’s skill in creating these flawed characters and skilfully exploring the dynamics that develop between them whilst maintaining a constant undercurrent of tension and menace. Told in the voices of the four adults, events slowly unfold from different perspectives, making this an interesting if not always pleasant read. Interesting, yes. Enjoyable? I’m not sure. But it had me hooked nonetheless. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment