Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses)

The title of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) intrigued me when I ran across it in my Library’s online catalog of audible books.  I could easily picture in my mind what such a place might look like, and I could just imagine the kind of conversations that would be heard there every day.  But as it turns out, even though I was pretty much right on both counts, I still didn’t really enjoy this one very much. And that is mainly because the novel being written within Bar Harbor Retirement Homehas such a predictable romance-novel plot, that I dreaded those long sections of the book during which that story is told.

Alfonse Carducci was one of the literary giants of his day, but now he’s come home to die in the retirement home he and his male lover designed both as a retreat for themselves and as a place that famous writers, agents, editors, etc. could spend their final months and years in the company of likeminded people.  Alfonse’s life has been one of excess, and now he is paying the price for the reckless way he lived his life. However, it is his chronic writer’s block that depresses Alfonse even more than his shaky health. But things take a sudden turn for the better when Cecibel Bringer, a young orderly, comes into Alfonse’s life.

Terri-Lynne DeFino
Cecibel has emotional baggage of her own due to an accident that left her so disfigured that she never allows anyone – even her favorite author in all of the world, Alfonse Carducci - to see the ruined side of her face.  The ever-flirtatious Alphonse almost immediately begins to work his magic on Cecibel, and as the young woman falls more and more in love with the old man, she begins to lose her self-consciousness about her appearance.  At the same time, Cecibel unknowingly works her own magic on the elderly author.  Now, Alphonse has found his muse, freeing him to co-author a novel alongside two other retired “giants” of his day.

This is the origin of the “novel within a novel” that I found to be too predictable and by-the-numbers to be represented as the work of three of the supposed greatest writers ever produced by this country.  And when the fictious novel is given as much space as the actual novel, and the plots of the two began to intersect closely, I lost interest in both of them.

Bottom Line: This one disappointed me, but that is probably because I am not even remotely a fan of romance novels; fans of that genre are likely to have an entirely different take on this one.  Too, I expected a very different novel than the one I got, and the letdown resulting from my high hopes crashing to the ground may very well have amplified my level of disappointment in Bar Harbor Retirement Home.  I suspect that the author knows her target audience well - but I am not one of them.

(Written after midnight in a Eunice, Louisiana hotel room after a day of driving in which the same tire went flat two times - the second time after having been "repaired" by a Discount Tire store in Beaumont, Texas.)

Book Number 3,420

8 comments:

  1. That sucks about your tire! I'm so sorry.

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    1. Luckily the leak was slow enough that I was able to make to another tire store for a re-do. So far, so good. I'm in Vicksburg, Mississippi, now and it seems to be holding. But it was not a great way to start my annual summer wandering-trip.

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  2. And I would have picked it up on the title alone! Thanks for the warning.

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    1. It's gotten lots of really good reviews, so it does have its audience. It's not my kind of book because it seems so formulaic - and has perfect happy endings for every character in the book. But then again, I can't stand all those Hallmark Channel movies...for the same reasons.

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  3. Bummer about your little tire adventure. Car trouble is never, ever fun! Sorry the book was a disappointment, too. Bummer all around!

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    1. It's just good to be doing something different. I love my road trips because I have no idea where I'm going to end up when I leave the house. Last year I went west and ended up in Wyoming. First time I'd ever seen that part of the country. This year it's east - and I'm still not sure where I'll end up. I'm messing around in Vicksburg, Mississippi, this morning and will decide where to head next after lunch.

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  4. The title (LOVE MAINE) intrigues me but, I am disappointed to hear it's romance. It would have to be a pass now.

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    1. Definitely romance, but I'm seeing that my rating is one of the lower ones it's received, so there's definitely a hardcore audience for the book. The author knows her audience, and I probably never should have picked this one up. But once I was sure where it was headed, I had already invested several hours in the book and decided to finish it.

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