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3.0 out of 5 stars One man's prison is another man's castle, Dec 30 2008
By 
Linda Bulger (United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Keep (Paperback)
Twenty-five years ago Danny played a horrible prank on his cousin Howie, and they never cleared the air between them. Now Howie's a retired millionaire and Danny's a plugged-in New Yorker, skirting the fringes of power and living by his cyber-connectedness. Howie is renovating a wonderfully creepy castle in Eastern Europe and because Danny's in a little hometown jam, he takes up Howie's invitation to come and join the team. Danny is SO out of his element, totally unplugged, and strange things happen that test him in ways he's never been tested.

Author Jennifer Egan threads a separate story through the castle tale. A convict named Ray takes a prison writing class to alleviate boredom, and it turns out that what he's writing is Danny and Howie's story about the castle. Ray has his own challenges in prison, not the least of which is his infatuation with Holly, the writing teacher. The prison story and the castle story finally intersect, as you know they will, and now is the time for a predictable but entertaining resolution.

But wait - now here's Part Three, introducing a brand new POV from a secondary character. This part feels poorly integrated with the rest of the book and as a device for wrapping up the loose ends, it's not as effective as it should be. Part Three was a disappointment but I saw it through to the end.

The Keep has some entertaining dialogue and the characters are promising if not well enough developed. In particular the settings have great scope, but they're not well developed either. The majority of the book (all but Part Three) is supposedly written by the convict Ray, and the style is pretty strictly amateur narrative, with no deeper theme than the interlocking stories. Clever, but not truly memorable, and I'm sure this is not the author's best personal writing style. Annoyingly, much of the dialogue is apparently written as a script with the speaker's name, then the lines; then the next speaker's name, then his lines. I listened to the unabridged audio and got very tired of this device.

Seven or so hours was a lot of time to invest in a three-star book, but the reading was well done and added some interest.

Linda Bulger, 2008
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The Keep
The Keep by Jennifer Egan (Hardcover - Aug. 1 2006)
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