Tag Archives: janet fitch

Paint It Black by Janet Fitch

Paint It Black by Janet Fitch (unabridged audiobook read by Jen Taylor): The story opens with Josie Tyrell waiting for her artist boyfriend Michael, who left a week before to hole up in his mother’s empty house and work on a painting. Just as she is beginning to wonder if he’d run off with another woman, the coroner calls. Michael was not at his mother’s house, not working on a painting at all. In reality, he had driven to a motel and shot himself. From then on out it is nonstop grief. This is a book I’m not sure I would have enjoyed on paper, but Taylor’s narration is absolutely brilliant. She captures the confusion, anger, and despair of Josie and Michael’s mother Meredith, as well as the mystery of Michael himself (in flashbacks), without ever sounding melodramatic or tiresome. Without her touch, I’m not sure I would have been able to stand such endless misery. But it’s only the subject matter that would be difficult to read. Fitch, as always, uses language like a paintbrush. The writing is simply beautiful, even when describing ugly things. Her unabashed love for poetry and art is present again here, as it was in White Oleander; likewise with the independent daughter/powerful mother dynamic. But the story is far from a repeat. And while I enjoyed it, I would have appreciated a little more plot – this was more of a slice-of-life story about Josie going through the stages of grief than a series of interelated events. I also wish the ending had been a touch more conclusive, but in a way the openness gave it more of a feeling of real life, where nothing ever ends. Quibbles aside, I was really touched by this book. Josie and Michael and Meredith and everyone were like real people whose lives I wanted to know more about. I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Fitch.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

White Oleander by Janet Fitch: Astrid is the daughter of the brilliant poet Ingrid Magnussen, a gorgeous and distant woman who has travelled all over the world. When Astrid is 12 years old, Ingrid goes to prison for murder, leaving her in a series of foster homes, each with their own rules, their own lessons to be learned. The story chronicles her life through age 18, her journey always returning to the same question of how to escape her mother’s influence, and whether she really wants to after all. On the surface, this sounded like the sort of book I’d read to pass the time, with more interest in having read it than actually reading it. I was mistaken. Utterly. I was completely sucked in, to the point where I was thinking about it during the times I couldn’t read, and had trouble putting it down during the times when I could. I read it for my entire five-hour flight from Nevada; I can’t remember the last time I found a book so engrossing. I just had to know what happened next, what new mentor Astrid, so used to being told what to do and how to think, would choose. I don’t know that I would necessarily call this book “exciting,” but it certainly was a page-turner for me. Beyond the story, the language was intense, beautiful, and precise. I could picture it all.

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