The Art of Devotion

I read this book because it was billed as a mix of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Ian McEwan’s Atonement. While upholding the comparison to Rebecca on strength of plotting and suspense, and the careful hinting at and subsequent revelation of secrets, it did not hold much resemblance to Atonement in strength of characterization or prose style. In general, strong writing requires scenes and summary, but the strongest writing always relies on scenes. I read for nearly 100 pages before encountering a scene in The Art of Devotion and could count the number of scenes in the 400 page novel on one hand—I exagerate, but not by much. The prose also falls short in its painful overuse of adverbs: the characters feel deeply, love tragically, hope strongly, and die tragically.  The plot, however, was compelling and mysterious enough to keep me engaged as a reader from page to page.  As a light summer read, this book works.

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