Today it is my great pleasure to be Maud Carol Markson’s host on her TLC Book Tour for her novel, Looking After Pigeon. I would like to thank her for sending me a copy of her book for review. 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.
Pigeon is five. She is the youngest of three children, all named after birds. Her sister Dove is about 10 years older than her and her brother Robin is 10. Her mother, Joan, married their father to get away from her family and has found herself disillusioned with motherhood. Things only get worse when Pigeon’s father loses his job and leaves the family with no means of support. They are forced, in the dead of night, to flee their New York apartment to go live with Joan’s brother Edward, who lives in a beach house not far from Atlantic City. It is there that those left in her family are forced to pick up the pieces and figure things out on their own.
At the beginning of the novel, an adult Pigeon is encouraged by her unnamed live-in boyfriend to write about the summer she moved to live with her Uncle Edward when she refuses to see a psychiatrist. That, in conjunction with the book’s title, leaves me waiting from the first page for something extremely terrible to happen to Pigeon. What I imagine never takes place. Part of me is relieved because of this as I finished the book, but part of me is also wondering why the novel began that way. Having a father desert you at the age of five and then be left alone a good deal of the time to take care of yourself would be traumatic. Still, I never was able to relax into the story because I was waiting for the “real” reason summers made her blue and her lover wanted her to do something to look after her mental health. I could never really warm up to Uncle Edward or her mother’s boyfriend Cary for fear of what they were going to do to her.
I never really warmed up to Dove or Pigeon’s names, although Robin’s name seemed like a good fit. He was by far my favorite character in the book. Likewise, I never really warmed up to Joan. Even in the scene after Pigeon comes back from her trip to New York City with Edward, I found her extremely cold. Just that little bit of warmth wasn’t enough to change my opinion of her. Living that summer the way she did, lost in the current of everyone else’s drama, I can also understand why Pigeon holds everyone at arm’s length, even down to leaving her current day lover nameless. He could be anyone from her romantic life past, present, or even future. Despite the glimmer of hope that she might one day open herself up more fully to someone else, she never names him. I found that quite sad, yet authentically Pigeon.
I wish I could say that I enjoyed Looking After Pigeon more than I did. The detachment I felt from the narrator from the very beginning carried through for me as a reader. Because I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop as soon as Uncle Edward entered the picture, I didn’t really engage with otherwise sympathetic characters. There was one touch I found very nice. Pigeon would make her own paper dolls from people in magazines and spend her time creating stories of their lives. More than anything else, it was in this detail that I felt closest to Pigeon. Still, I found myself wondering how this story would have been told from Robin’s perspective. There was that touch of magic in his soul that might have added just the right touch for me.
Maud Carol Markson’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS
Wednesday, October 21st: Dolce Bellezza
Monday, October 26th: A Sea of Books
Thursday, October 29th: Steph and Tony Investigate
Monday, November 2nd: A Reader’s Journal
Tuesday, November 3rd: The Scholastic Scribe
Wednesday, November 4th: Raging Bibliomania
Monday, November 9th: Clever Girl Goes Blog
Tuesday, November 10th: Book Club Classics
Thursday, November 11th: Caribousmom