Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: Starting Over by Laura Rittenhouse

Starting Over

Genre: Mainstream Fiction
Publisher: Wings E-Press
Price: $12.95

What I Liked:
This book is not for the faint of heart. I like to read a book like that every once in awhile. Something that's not just your average (even above-average) category or single-title romance novel/novella. This book is over 400 pages of intense interpersonal interacting and saga. 

That being said, I hope the length and the intensity won't deter you from potentially reading it. It did me, if I'm honest, for quite awhile. I kept thinking... I don't know if I have it in me to read a 450 page book today. But I'm glad I finally took the time to sit with it. I enjoyed it.

As an old fan of the saga (think John Jakes meets Nevil Shute, with a very different story-telling perspective), I found myself easily slipping back into that style of reading. It's not an action-based skim-to-finish experience. It's a deeper connection. And it's a lot of fun, especially when the story is interesting. Like a lot of saga-type books, it's not really about the destination, it's about the journey. (You may not like the destination... I'm not sure I did... but the journey was a good one.)

Book Blurb:
Though she doesn’t understand exactly why, Maria isn’t content with her lot. The prospect of exchanging dependence on her family for dependence on a husband doesn’t sit well with this young woman growing up in late 19th Century Germany. Three generations later, on the other side of the Atlantic, Eva struggles with a similar restlessness; she’s generally happy but never quite satisfied.

This book follows Maria and her great-granddaughter Eva as they face surprisingly similar choices in dramatically different decades: how to keep a roof over your head, when to abandon independence and commit to a lover, where to draw a line in the sand. The choices they make take them to new countries, open them up to heartache and leave them wondering what is enough.

Short Excerpt:
 Maria stood unmoving as she absorbed the fact that she was now a legal immigrant into America. She hadn’t realized how much she had worried that her dream could have been crushed at the last minute.

One of the men at the desk snapped something to her in English that brought her out of her reverie. She grabbed her bags and moved towards the ferry.

A short boat ride later had Maria stepping onto Manhattan Island. She blinked, still fearing it was a dream that would vanish. But she didn’t wake up. Or rather, she was already wide awake. She’d never been more awake in her life. And nothing had ever felt as real as this street in New York.


  1. Patg: It was a book worth reading. For sure. Thanks for stopping by!!

  2. Laura, thanks for stopping by. Re: Destination... I'm used to reading romance novels, where the destination is always favorable. So it was probably more shocking to someone like me than for people who regularly read mainstream or historical fiction.

    I hope I was clear enough that I did like the book. It just is very different from what I normally read. Still. Well-done.

  3. Laura and Rebecca, what this makes me think is that immigrants didn't have the traditional HEA. They had the happy-for-now. Their HEA came in the form of children and grandchildren born in a free land which would allow them to be all they could be. Laura, your great- grandmother would undoubtedly be proud of you for writing this book.