Today it is my great pleasure to be Francine Prose’s host on her TLC Book Tour for her novel, Goldengrove. I have enjoyed the reviews I’ve read along the way. Please see the end of my review for a list of the blogs who are on this tour with me.
I have a lot of fun working as a tour host for TLC Book Tours. They always have great books and authors on tour. Check out their website for more information on this tour and the others that they are hosting.
I would also like to thank Meredith at HarperCollins for sending me a review copy of this novel. I love the cover and it was such a treat to find in the mail.
Goldengrove by Francine Prose
Nico’s sister Margaret was four years older than her and all that she was not. She was slim, attractive to opposite sex, a talented singer, and looking forward to going to college in the fall. Although their family was close and their parents were former hippies, Margaret wasn’t especially getting along with them. Her father didn’t approve of her boyfriend, Aaron, and her mother fought with her about smoking because of her heart condition. One summer Sunday the sisters were sunbathing out in the lake on their boat. They could hear their mother practicing at the piano in their lake front house. Nico was curious about all the things that Margaret was and wondering if she would ever be like her. Even still, Nico couldn’t help bringing up her sister’s smoking habit. When Margaret had enough, she saluted Nico and dove into the lake. She was never seen alive again. At age 13, Nico had to learn to navigate the waters of a life of kept secrets while haunted by a sister who seemed so nearly perfect.
Goldengrove is a lyrical look at life after a tragic loss. The way that time, place, and emotion are described is really beautiful. The language Prose used was interesting in and of itself, specifically just after Margaret dies. Her use of words made scenes where Nico and her parents couldn’t sleep very powerful. You could see them in different places within the house trying to keep quiet, knowing all along that they were fooling no one into believing they were sleeping. Their mourning was almost poetic.
The loss of Margaret didn’t quite bring the family closer together. It cut a hole between her parents and between parents and “only remaining child.” Nico isn’t sure if there is anyone who can understand what she’s going through except for Aaron. As she kept Margaret’s secret dates with Aaron, Nico begins seeing him in secret as well. Together they feel as though they can cross sacred ground. They both were trying to recapture Margaret by using each other and it was when this storyline got deep that I felt that the beauty of the prose was lost for a while. It’s lyrical quality was broken. Going from lyrical to creepy just didn’t work well for me. I think this was true to Nico’s experience as well and didn’t really disrupt my enjoyment. I just wish some of the harder aspects of Nico’s summer with Aaron had that same poetic quality.
Goldengrove is the first novel I’ve read by Francine Prose. It sounds strange to say that I really enjoyed a novel that deals with the aftermath of losing a sibling during childhood, but I did. The language was beautiful and engaging almost entirely throughout. I would be interested to know if this novel would seem as lifelike and honest to someone who has experienced the loss of a sibling during childhood. I was enchanted by the cover and the novel did not disappoint. I am looking forward to reading more of Prose’s work.
Francine Prose’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS
Tuesday, September 22nd: Book Magic
Wednesday, September 23rd: Eclectic Book Lover
Thursday, September 24th: The Bluestocking Society
Tuesday, September 29th: Dolce Bellezza
Thursday, October 1st: A Sea of Books
Monday, October 5th: A High and Hidden Place
Tuesday, October 6th: Books on the Brain
Wednesday, October 7th: S. Krishna’s Books
Thursday, October 8th : Book Chatter and Other Stuff
Tuesday, October 13th: Caribousmom
Thursday, October 15th: The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness