I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Margaret is a former art student and still lives in the same town in which she attended art school. We find out she was a rather talented painter and drops out because she is no longer inspired to paint; she is a strong-willed character and approaches everything and everyone on her own terms.
One day Margaret meets an art teacher named Ben Adams who is awkward, withdrawn and at times seems very sad. Margaret and Ben seem to approach their lives in similar ways, with a complacency and a numbness, as if they are waking in slow motion through mud. Although Ben is married they continue to see each other until one day Ben suddenly disappears. There is a bit of a mystery in the book as Margaret tries to come up with a plan to find out where Ben has gone.
The cast of characters are brilliantly described, all of whom are quirky and have very distinctive traits. Margaret works for a publishing company that writes children’s books and the office is located in an old sanatorium. Her colleague Celeste, an editor at the Project, as they call their job, believes that a ghost is haunting their offices. This mysterious ghost rearranges the furniture, inserts typos into their books and even leaves them little riddles.
Sally Ann, another editor at the Project, is so shy and introverted that she will not even eat lunch with the other staff. She oftentimes communicates her thoughts through a puppet she calls “Mr. Bones.” The project manager himself is aloof and doesn’t seem to notice that the Project hasn’t actually published any books because he is having an affair with the woman who is the star of a popular children’s television series.
My favorite plot line of the book is the progression of Margaret and Ben’s relationship. They both appear to be dissatisfied with their lives but at first they are unwilling to change anything about their routines. Margaret details for us many of their dates which are simple yet romantic and they gradually begin to care more and more for one another. It seems that Ben’s disappearance is upsetting Margaret more than she will admit.
I enjoyed the plots, characters, and writing of the book right up until the last page. The ending of this book really surprised and confused me. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will keep thinking about how the author wrapped this one up and I am not sure if I quite understand it. This rather puzzling end to SOME OTHER TOWN would make for an excellent discussion among the members of a book club.
SOME OTHER TOWN is a delightful read and reminds us that sometimes we have to break out of our comfort zone to really enjoy and fully appreciate everything that life has to offer. I highly recommend this book and if you happen to read it, then leave a comment and let me know what you think about the ending!
About The Author:
Elizabeth Collison grew up in the Midwest and now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has worked as an editor, graphic artist, and technical writer. Some Other Town is her first novel.
5 responses to “Review: Some Other Town by Elizabeth Collison”
This sounds intriguing, and the book’s cover is beautiful and a bit surreal, which fits the plot you describe. I’m curious now about the ending!
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Hallo, Hallo! 🙂
When I looked back on the time Ben was absent, did you notice what I had? Margaret was given a ‘second chance’ with a short time window of how long she could keep Ben? It was a unique spin to place inside the story, and I only put the pieces together after I wrote my review and allowed the story to percolate a bit more; some stories like this have to be read and then, allow to settle a bit inside us. To get all the hidden details and the beautiful little additions we might have missed on the first pass.
Oh, the ending surprised you!? I sort of picked up on it — there were a few hidden clues, the Prologue for starters, but evenso, did you notice how time elapsed in the novel? Did you see how each time we learnt something more of Margaret’s life, we were learning a bit less of Ben’s? OR rather, his life was either a bit behind or right in-line with Margaret’s?
My heart felt heavy in the end, even though, after I read it, I knew the fullness of it’s scope was meant to be this conclusion. It evokes you to question how your perception of the events leads to the ending and how in the end, how the threads all came together in only one way they could.
I’d say a bit more but I do not want to spolit it for those who did not yet read it, you can PM me anytime and we can expand our discussion? 🙂
My review of Some Other Town: (http://wp.me/p4Y8Bq-2eC)
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Thanks so much for your comments, Jorie! This is such a great book for a book club discussion! I will have to go back and look at the prologue again! There were a couple of times throughout the story that I thought Margaret was losing touch with reality and I thought that maybe at the end the whole thing would end up being a dream.
Hallo Magistra! 🙂
I definitely agree, this would be great as a full-on club discussion OR any group of friends who’ve read the book and want to continue to see where the story took them individually. Yes, there were parts where I felt it could be ‘but a dream’ or a ‘world within a dream or out of time’; partially both observations are valid because of the ending. Again, I could say more but I’d rather not spoilt it for your readers! 🙂
Nice seeing you were able to get a copy of this too!
Not sure I’ll get to this one, but it sounds awesome! I like that we get to see the progression of their relationship over time, rather than the usual “insta-love.”