Book Review: The Escape Artist

The Escape Artist – Diane Chamberlain – 1997 – Drama

When Susanna Miller loses custody of her eleven-month-old son, Tyler, she goes on the run instead of turning her little boy over to her ex-husband and his new wife. She dyes her hair, changes her name, and escapes from Boulder, Colorado, leaving behind everyone she knows including Linc Sebastian, the man who has been her best friend since childhood and who knows her better than anyone.

Susanna lands in Annapolis, Maryland – lonely, frightened – and always looking over her shoulder for someone who might recognize her. Just as she’s beginning to feel safe in her new surroundings, she stumbles across information that could save the lives of many people… if she’s willing to take it to the police. But going to the authorities means revealing her identity, admitting her guilt and, worst of all, losing her son.

The story is primarily told from Susanna’s point of view, although there are some points from Peggy or Linc. At parts of the book I could empathise with Susanna and her predicament, but I found the characters in this book particularly unbelievable. I couldn’t really relate to any of them, and didn’t really care about their problems they were facing, which was surprising because the premise of the book really appealed to me when I saw the book in the charity shop.

The main question in the book is whether Susanna should hand in the list she finds on her computer or not. However this question doesn’t really get left in her hands, and so feels a little redundant to the story. The problem is, as this is the only thing the plot is relying on, there is not much story left without it.

My favourite thing about this book was the plot of the list that Susanna finds on her computer, and trying to figure out what it was referring to.
The book had a rather predictable ending, like most of Chamberlain’s books but this time it felt a little boring rather than the usual satisfaction I get from the endings of her books.

I gave this book 2/5 on Goodreads. Unfortunately I don’t think this Chamberlain book is one of the memorable ones. I didn’t engage with the plot or the characters, although I’m not really sure why. I probably couldn’t recommend this book to somebody newly discovering Chamberlain’s books. I’m not sure if it was because it wasn’t set in North Carolina or whether there was something in the plot that turned me off, but I really didn’t care about this book – it wasn’t that it was a badly written book, more just a bit dull.

Book Thoughts: The Good Father

The Good Father – Diane Chamberlain – 2012 – Drama

Image result for the good father diane chamberlain

The Good Father tells the story of Travis, a man in his early twenties trying to raise his 4-year-old daughter Bella. He loses his job and his home and is offered a chance to make money, although he will have to commit a crime. Will he choose to commit the crime, even though he may lose his daughter in the process?

Diane Chamberlain is very good at characterisation and developing people that are interesting to read about. I really liked Travis as a character, he seems (as the title suggests) a good dad to Bella, although quite naive and weak-willed. It is understandable that he is like this but it feels a bit convenient for the story as he is also supposed to be intelligent. My favourite character was definitely Erin as I just felt like I could relate to her the most. Although I felt she was a bit convenient to the story rather than it being particularly realistic, I couldn’t help empathise with her story. I did also feel that the problems of the main characters were generally believable – Chamberlain often writes about problems people face in their everyday lives (poverty, grief…) and makes them more dramatic for the plot.

As I said the book’s central theme is whether to commit the crime and earn some money for Bella, or to potentially live on the street but not commit any crime. Although the answer is obvious as to what he will do (for the plot if nothing else) I don’t think this itself particularly affects the enjoyment of the plot.

Another of my favourite things about Chamberlain’s books is the setting of North Carolina. Perhaps to Americans North Carolina is not an “exotic” setting, but I love reading about the state as she describes it in her book, and it has made me really want to visit one day so I can properly experience the places she is talking about.

My main problem with the book was that it all just felt a bit too convenient. When Travis and Robin meet again, Robin’s status as the governor’s wife, Erin’s personality and overall presence in the book. There was not a lot of actual plot unfortunately, it just seemed to rely on these convenient situations to move the plot along.

I do however like the way that the book ended. Something I like about Chamberlain’s books is that she always adds an epilogue to finish the book and tie up the characters’ stories. Although they sometimes end up a bit “twee”, I always have nice feeling when I finish one of her books.

On Goodreads I gave this book 3/5 stars. Although I do enjoy the book overall, the plot isn’t the most interesting and I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone as a first Diane Chamberlain book.