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Monday, December 3, 2012

A Desire Path by Jan Shapin

about book:  

What makes women fall for men who are tied to political causes?  "It's called a desire path," she said, indicating a trace of beaten earth that disappeared into the woods." A landscaping term my mother used.  Not 'shortcut' - that implies convenience.  Desire is rarely a convenience."

Set in the Depression and WWIIs aftermath, A Desire Path traces a love affair between Ilse, a New England housewife, and Andy, an itinerant Union organizer who has grown disillusioned by the in-fighting in the nation's capital.  Ilse's husband, Leo, a powerful Washington lawyer, retaliates by destroying Andy's livelihood.

Still in love with him, Anna Mae, a journalist friend of Andy's, returns from Moscow to tend an increasingly senile father only to confront the horrific past that first prompted her escape to the Soviet Union.

Over the years Ilse witnesses Anna Mae's flailing adherrence to Communist doctrine, even as she comes to see her own marriage as so much dogma.  She rediscovers her love for Andy and the tension builds as she attempts to break free of Leo's domination.

my thoughts:  

If you like the historical aspect of historical fiction, then you will enjoy A Desire Path by Jan Shapin.  The writing is great and filled with interesting information about labor unions and the political landscape surrounding life during the Depression and WWII.  I actually enjoyed reading the factoids more than I did the parts about the characters.  For some reason, I just found myself indifferent to Andy, Ilse and Anna Mae - I couldn't get on board with their stories and found myself skipping ahead until I got to read more of the historical information.  I also didn't care for the way the narrative jumped around - I know the book is set up in a way to showcase each character's story, but I found the jumping around to be rather distracting.  Overall, this book was not one of my favorite reads and I would only recommend it to avid fans of historical fiction (because you will enjoy the historical aspect so much). 
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

7 comments:

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Sorry it didn't work for you. The subject does sound interesting!

jan shapin said...

I’m so glad you liked both my writing and the historical context (and “factoids”) about labor unions and American political landscape in the 1930s and ‘40s. I understand that, for some, three different characters’ stories – each almost a novella in its own right – can feel distracting. My first novel, A Snug Life Somewhere, is about only one character’s life, how it connects to labor unions and communism in the period around WW I. You might find that a more satisfying read. Thank you for participating in the TLC Book Tour and I really do appreciate your thoughtful response and the “heads up” to your historical fiction fans.
Jan Shapin, author of A Desire Path

Nadia said...

Holly, it worked for me on one level, but not another. I would definitely recommend it to fans of historical fiction.

Jan, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for recommending your first book, it does sound like my cup of tea - I'll check it out. Cheers!

Ti said...

Is this a new term? Desire Path? Or made-up for the story alone. I've never heard it before but it's interesting to ponder.

Nadia said...

Ti, I'm actually not sure. I would think its something from back in the day, but could just be from her imagination. Pretty neat to think about, eh?

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I do tend to enjoy historical tidbits in novels so I might enjoy this one.

Thanks for being on the tour.

Nadia said...

Heather, thanks for having me on the tour - I really enjoyed it!