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#208 ~ Looking After Pigeon

Cover of Looking After Pigeon

Looking After Pigeon by Maud Carol Markson

tlc-logo-resizedToday 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.

My Review

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

maud carol markson

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

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15 Comments

  • At 2009.10.27 08:55, Maud said:

    Thank you so much for your very well written review. I am sorry you didn’t warm up to the characters as much– I’m surprised you don’t mention more about Uncle Edward. He certainly could be looked at as one of the “heroes of the book” since he really does his best to care for all the children.
    I do find it extremely interesting to hear you want to hear the story from Robin’s point of view. Don’t you find it often that way in families– that every family member remembers their own version of the story? Robin’s story would be quite different than Pigeon’s, as would Dove’s. We remember what was most important to ourselves or what struck us at this particular point in our lives.

    Maud

    • At 2009.10.27 11:39, Kathy said:

      The character names used in this book fascinate me since I’ve known families that use odd themes like that in naming their children. Sometimes it is hard to get into a book when you don’t feel a connection to the narrator, but this one sounds interesting enough that I’d give it a try.

      Read more from Kathy

      The Week in Review: 2.17.2017

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      • At 2009.10.27 12:01, Nat @Book, Line, and Sinker said:

        I am often more intrigued by less-than-glowing book reviews. I often read books that other bloggers were not so enchanted with just to see if my opinion aligns with the reviewer’s!

        I really love novels that focus on family dynamics and am looking forward to getting ahold of this one! Thanks for the honest (and motivating!) review.

        • At 2009.10.27 12:25, Jennifer said:

          Maud, thank you so much for your comments. I did end up liking Uncle Edward after I finished the book. I guess I was waiting for him to do something to Pigeon. Every time he was alone with Pigeon I was waiting for something awful to happen. He really was a hero in the novel. Robin was definitely my favorite and you’re absolutely right about each family member having a different story to tell.

          Kathy and Nat, I just had a chance to read Dolce Bellezza’s review, which is much different than mine: http://dolcebellezza.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/looking-after-pigeon/. I just don’t think I was the right reader for this book or, perhaps, that I read it at the wrong time. I’ll be curious to read other reviews alone the tour.

          • At 2009.10.27 14:48, Maud said:

            The character names used in this book fascinate me since I’ve known families that use odd themes like that in naming their children. Sometimes it is hard to get into a book when you don’t feel a connection to the narrator, but this one sounds interesting enough that I’d give it a try.
            Read more from Kathy
            Mailbox Monday
            A

            Dear Kathy,

            I, too, am fascinated by names– how they shape us. And I do hope you will “try” my novel. Perhaps you will feel a connection with the narrator that Jennifer did not feel. Of course, all books strike us in different ways, based on our own experiences, and even our mood at the time we read the book. I will look forward to hearing what you think after you’ve had a chance to read Looking After Pigeon!

            Maud

            • At 2009.10.27 14:54, Maud said:

              I am often more intrigued by less-than-glowing book reviews. I often read books that other bloggers were not so enchanted with just to see if my opinion aligns with the reviewer’s!
              I really love novels that focus on family dynamics and am looking forward to getting ahold of this one! Thanks for the honest (and motivating!) review.

              Dear Nat,

              I certainly hope you will “try” Looking After Pigeon. It definitely focuses on family dynamics, on one’s place in one’s family, and on one’s forming an identity outside of one’s own family, and the attempt to answer the ultimate question: How can I look after myself? I will look forward to hearing what you think after you’ve had a chance to read the book– I love hearing from readers!

              Maud

              • At 2009.10.27 14:56, Maud said:

                Maud, thank you so much for your comments. I did end up liking Uncle Edward after I finished the book. I guess I was waiting for him to do something to Pigeon. Every time he was alone with Pigeon I was waiting for something awful to happen. He really was a hero in the novel. Robin was definitely my favorite and you’re absolutely right about each family member having a different story to tell.
                Kathy and Nat, I just had a chance to read Dolce Bellezza’s review, which is much different than mine: http://dolcebellezza.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/looking-after-pigeon/. I just don’t think I was the right reader for this book or, perhaps, that I read it at the wrong time. I’ll be curious to read other reviews alone the tour.
                Read more from Jennifer
                #208 ~ Looking After Pigeon
                Looking After Pigeon by Maud Carol MarksonToday 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 se[…]

                Jennifer– If I had to be worried about Uncle Edward harming Pigeon throughout the book, that might have affected how I read it myself. Of course, no writer can please every reader, and different books resonate with different readers. Still, I always appreciate hearing different perspectives, and of course all reviews reveal something about the book!
                I am enjoying your blog.

                Maud

                • At 2009.10.27 18:25, trish said:

                  I find it fascinating that some people connect with certain characters and others don’t. I’m curious now whether I would connect with Pigeon or not.

                  Thanks for being on this tour, Jennifer!

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                  • At 2009.10.27 18:31, Maud said:

                    I find it fascinating that some people connect with certain characters and others don’t. I’m curious now whether I would connect with Pigeon or not.
                    Thanks for being on this tour, Jennifer!

                    Trish–
                    Give it a try and see. Most people I have spoken with have connected with Pigeon because she ‘speaks’ to that child in all of us. I will look forward to hearing what you have to say!

                    Maud

                    • At 2009.10.27 20:28, Bellezza said:

                      I liked Robin an awfully lot, too. He was quirky, without being out and out weird. I know what you mean about being afraid Uncle Edward to do something creepy. I had the same suspicion which fortunately didn’t pan out. Overall, he was a good Uncle to Pigeon and her siblings even though no one could make up for the self-centered father.

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                      • At 2009.10.27 20:56, Maud said:

                        I liked Robin an awfully lot, too. He was quirky, without being out and out weird. I know what you mean about being afraid Uncle Edward to do something creepy. I had the same suspicion which fortunately didn’t pan out. Overall, he was a good Uncle to Pigeon and her siblings even though no one could make up for the self-centered father.Read more from Bellezza
                        Mailbox Monday
                        A

                        Bellezza and Jennifer,

                        I am so enjoying the ‘interchange’ about my book. Makes it come alive for me all over again. THANK YOU BOTH!

                        Maud

                        • […] Tues, Oct 27 – Literate Housewife […]

                          • At 2009.10.30 11:50, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

                            Eh, I think I’ll pass on this one.

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                            • At 2009.11.11 15:08, Wendy said:

                              I had a different reaction to the book than you did (I’ll be posting my review tomorrow). I actually grew to care deeply about Pigeon (although I agree, Joan was just cold…I never liked her). I too thought Pigeon might ultimately be subjected to some sort of abuse (but I was more concerned about Cary than by Uncle Edward…who I felt really loved and cared about Pigeon). I think this was a book that might not appeal to all readers, but I really connected with it.

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                              • At 2009.11.11 15:14, Maud said:

                                Dear Wendy,

                                I am so glad you did “warm up” to Pigeon, and I look forward to reading your review. As you say, not all books will appeal to all readers, but I find that most readers do feel protective of Pigeon and root for her. And most readers, I think, can relate to the theme of wanting someone to “look after” them, but realizing ultimately that we must all look after ourselves. And also the theme of selective memory– although Pigeon as an adult says she remembers every detail of that summer, ultimately she only remembers it through her own lens.
                                I’m also glad you saw the goodness in Uncle Edward. I see him a caring loving man who really does try to do his best by these kids (and Cary, too, tries to do his best although he is not exactly the perfect father figure). I guess we all fumble through life a bit.

                                At any rate, thank you for being such a wonderful reader and I will be sure to check out your blog tomorrow morning.

                                Maud

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