Thursday, December 8, 2016

I'll Take You There: A Novel by Wally Lamb

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

In this radiant homage to the resiliency, strength, and power of women, Wally Lamb—author of numerous New York Times bestselling novels including She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much is True, and We Are Water—weaves an evocative, deeply affecting tapestry of one Baby Boomer’s life and the trio of unforgettable women who have changed it.

I’ll Take You There centers on Felix, a film scholar who runs a Monday night movie club in what was once a vaudeville theater. One evening, while setting up a film in the projectionist booth, he’s confronted by the ghost of Lois Weber, a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood’s silent film era. Lois invites Felix to revisit—and in some cases relive—scenes from his past as they are projected onto the cinema’s big screen.

In these magical movies, the medium of film becomes the lens for Felix to reflect on the women who profoundly impacted his life. There’s his daughter Aliza, a Gen Y writer for New York Magazine who is trying to align her post-modern feminist beliefs with her lofty career ambitions; his sister, Frances, with whom he once shared a complicated bond of kindness and cruelty; and Verna, a fiery would-be contender for the 1951 Miss Rheingold competition, a beauty contest sponsored by a Brooklyn-based beer manufacturer that became a marketing phenomenon for two decades. At first unnerved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters with Lois, who is later joined by the spirits of other celluloid muses.

Against the backdrop of a kaleidoscopic convergence of politics and pop culture, family secrets, and Hollywood iconography, Felix gains an enlightened understanding of the pressures and trials of the women closest to him, and of the feminine ideals and feminist realities that all women, of every era, must face.

my thoughts:

I'm a huge Wally Lamb fan. I just love She's Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True, and The Hour I First Believed - they are such amazing and unforgettable stories.  So, of course I agreed to review his latest book, I'll Take You There.  In fact, I didn't even read the summary, because I just knew that I would be in for quite a treat.  Oh, how wrong I was.  This is the first Wally Lamb book I did not finish - ack! Its true. I tried so hard to keep reading and engage with this story, but I just couldn't.  From the start it didn't feel like a Wally Lamb story, which I admit threw me off a bit.  I figured that he was going for something different and kept on reading - I wish that I hadn't. 

Felix loves films and runs a movie night.  He's setting up a film when he meets a ghost - a woman named Lois Weber (a groundbreaking female director) - who tells him to watch a stack of film reels that will show him footage from his life.  Felix does as he's told and finds himself observing scenes from his life.  Sometimes, he actually relives the scenes.  As he watches/relives his life, he gets to learn new information about his family, specifically the women.  He gets to understand about the inequality they fought against, along with a host of other women's issues that they had to endure.  Its feminism 101 in a sense.  Except, Felix is already pretty open-minded, so he doesn't really need this crash course.  Then again, I didn't finish the book, so I'm not sure what he really learns from this experience.  I just know that I found the story lacking in depth - its exploration of feminism and women's issues was very light-weight.  And the characters were not well developed - they lacked substance.  In fact, I didn't care what happened to any of them.  As for the writing, it was terrific as per usual when it comes to Wally Lamb.  He has a way with words that is magical and lyrical.  Except, this time round, his writing abilities could not entice me to keep on reading.  The content of the story was just not my cup of tea, so I had to put the book down and call it a day.  Oh well.  I know that I'll still read his books.  I won't let this story affect my enthusiasm for Lamb's novels - they are usually superb reads. 

Anyhow, I must be in the minority when it comes to I'll Take You There, because I've read some other reviews of the book and they rave about it.  So, definitely check out what other bloggers have to say about this book - you may just LOVE it. 

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: I'll Take You There
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!


Ti said...

I ordered this one from the library yesterday. I like Lamb too but it's been awhile since I've read his work. I like the idea of this one but I'm not sure it will work for me. Only time will tell.

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Ti, I hope you enjoy this one. I've heard some people really liked it and its feminist slant, I just couldn't get into it. Oh well.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.

Lisa said...

I did manage to finish this one but it does have major flaws, the biggest of which is that it just couldn't seem to figure out what kind of a book it wanted to be. You're so right about Felix - why bother to teach him these lessons when he is already so open minded? And why use the gimmick of the ghosts then hit us up with some very serious stories. And, in the beginning, it seems like Lamb is having Felix relive his life to learn some lesson he needed to learn but nothing is about Felix at all. There were some pretty interesting characters but it just didn't gel.