Friday, 12 February 2010

A Special Relationship - Douglas Kennedy

Having read State of the Union (2005) last year, I promptly added Douglas Kennedy to my TBR list. His writing style intrigues me and I am fascinated by the fact that he can narrate so aptly as a female. I know it's been done before, but Kennedy somehow manages to have an inside perspective which I don't understand how he came to hold.

A Special Relationship (2003) is the story of Sally Goodchild, a fiercely independent woman and experienced journalist from Boston who has been posted to various different countries as a foreign correspondent. Upon meeting Tony Hobbs when they are both posted to Cairo, he being at a similar stage in his own journalistic career, a whirlwind romance occurs and results in Sally's pregnancy. The couple hastily marry and move to Tony's hometown, London, to begin their new life together.

Sally goes about settling into her marriage and adjusting to life in another new place before the birth of her son. Kennedy's portrayal of a woman experiencing severe postnatal depression is terrifyingly insightful. It is then that Sally faces the consequences of marrying a virtual stranger in a foreign land and a relationship that is anything but special.

The novel starts slowly and builds laboriously, following Sally's movements in excruciating detail for the first couple hundred pages, before it experiences a drastic gear change. From then on, the action is fast-paced and emotionally packed as the courtroom drama unfolds. As with State of the Union, my criticism is that the resolution is all a bit too convenient; not necessarily easy, but another short chapter would perhaps have resolved the what next? questions the reader will ultimately ask.

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