The Book That Matters Most
Summary (from Goodreads): An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets, friendship, and the healing power of literature, by the bestselling author of The Knitting Circle.
Ava’s twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood—one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.
Review: The idea of choosing the book that matters most for a book club was an intriguing one; I was disappointed that the book club members, for the most part, chose cliched classics that are often read in high school English class. Still, it could have been interesting to see how the book club discussed these novels. However, after a discussion about how the food and drink (and even costumes!) tied into the book, there were usually only a few comments made by members before the scene would end and the reader would be onto the next chapter. The book club felt a little superficial.
Ava as a character was sympathetic but a little boring. Maggie, however, was a compelling figure trapped in tragic circumstances of her own making, and I was rooting for her to turn her life around. I flew through the chapters devoted to Maggie, and plodded through the rest.
The ending felt too coincidental - and I had guessed at least part of it - and the chapters written from minor characters' points of view were distracting to the overall story.
Rating: 3 stars