Wednesday, August 13, 2008


So Long at the Fair A Novel
By Christina Schwarz
Doubleday, Publisher
ISBN: 978-0-385-51029-5
I originally was interested in reading this book because of the title and the location. I was born and raised in North Eastern Ohio in 1962 so the life that the main characters of this book lived is very much like my memories of growing up.
On the first look this book is about adultery but it goes a lot deeper than that. There are two main time lines that take place and also an additional one thrown in just for some added flavor. Sometimes keeping these time lines clear can be difficult since a few of the characters show up in more than one time line but they have changed just enough that you need to double check often to see who it is that is being referred to. I found that the book grabbed me right away with just enough information to keep me reading to find out what happens. The main time frame of the book actually takes place over one morning and afternoon. This being said you realize that much of the book is filled with background information and time to get to know and understand the motivations behind the many characters.
There are two groups of characters in this book that you discover early on are two generations of several families in one small town. It seems that what happens to them is seemingly unrelated. The 1960’s time line has mystery and revenge. The later time line has adultery. Other than the fact that the people are related you find yourself wondering why they are important to each other. This I think is where a reader will benefit if they have a little bit of life behind them. The reason I say this is that while on the outside this is a book about all of the things listed above, on closer examination this is a book about life and how things can often go wrong. What is happening to the main characters Ginny and Jon is something that is not new. These are issues that many of us will face in some way in our lives whether or not we want to admit it or not. When we are younger we often think that our parents have no idea what the “real world” is like but as we get older we realize the valuable resource they are and often have overcome even greater self-imposed obstacles than we had. I liked the fact that this book shows the different paths that people can choose when hardship hits and how that will ultimately impact the rest of their lives.
The ending is not at all what I expected. I did not like it at first. I did however come to love the ending once I had some time to think about it. I found this book to be very thought provoking. The writing was well done and I don’t think William Faulkner could have done a better job with the time lines. If you are looking for a book to just be fluff about adultery you will find it in this book. But, it you want to look for something deeper you will also find it in this book. Open up to these characters all of whom are just trying to find their way through a difficult world. I think a reader who looks will find much deeper messages here than they would have realized on the first look. Recommended


Library Cat said...

I felt the same way about the book. I waited too late to start trying to keep up with all the tangled relationships between past and present and feel like I missed something in the reading. In my blog, LibrarysCat Book Blog, I mentioned that perhaps I needed to read the book again!

Anonymous said...

This is on my list, but I haven't gotten to it yet ... I've read very mixed reviews.

I'll take the advice of you and Library Cat and be prepared for the tangled relationships ... yes, I take notes when I need to!