Monday, 16 May 2016

"The Excellent Lombards" by Jane Hamilton

Jane Hamilton
  This novel is the growing up story of Frankie (Mary Francis) Lombard.  Members of her extended family own a farm with several buildings and an apple orchard and Frankie is fiercely in love with the whole operation.
  I have enjoyed Jane Hamilton's writing in the past and read this promotion on the cover:  "This is the book Jane Hamilton was born to write, and it is a book that thrilled me to read.  "The Excellent Lombards" is, in fact, magnificent".
That quote is from Ann Patchett who is an author of great renown and I expected a 'great novel'.
  Well, this novel is not 'magnificent', nor did it thrill me.
   When I began reading, I was enjoying Jane Hamilton's ability to write beautiful sentences.   For example:  "The harvest was a wild living thing that you were  trying to tame while all the while it was dragging you behind, arms out, flailing, in the chase. But here, was the miracle: Despite the chaos, the lack of planning, the bad feeling between Sherwood and my father, there was also an overriding unity of purpose, a reverence for the family history, a love for the soil within the property lines."                       
  But eventually, I needed more than well-written sentences.  I was looking for more plot.
  The novel described Frankie's life on the farm, her school life, her friends, and quirky family members.   Mostly she loved the farm so much that she never wanted to leave and was concerned about the other financial interests in the property, as well as the challenge of keeping the town from overtaking them.  Change is inevitable and Frankie is desperate to keep things as they are.
  This book reminded me of "The Orchard" by Theresa Weir.  That book was a memoir and dealt with environmental issues as well as family dynamics.  It was much more interesting.
  This novel really needed some 'pizzazz'.

I have read two other books by Jane Hamilton and enjoyed both of them much more than "The Excellent Lombards".  


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