Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Excess of Riches

By Tanya Egan Gibson

Format: Paperback
Published: Plume; July 2010
Pages: 400

Synopsis: Recognizing that their dullard daughter, Carley, needs an academic boost, Gretchen and Francis Wells hire author Bree McEnroy to write a book to Carley's specifications. Though Carley's love for reality television and Bree's fondness for self-conscious literary tropes should, in theory, unite to make a delightful story-within-a-story, it is often neglected or underwritten. Meanwhile, the cardboard secondary cast floats around Bree and Carley: there's Hunter, Carley's crush, whose alcoholic rakishness, we are assured, masks a poet's interior; Carley's social-climbing mother and philandering father; and Justin, Bree's college chum, who has become, on dubious merit, a literary star. Carley and Hunter's friendship is jeopardized by both his addictions and her unrequited adoration, and Bree and Justin reconcile. Copyright © Reed Business Information

My Take: I had a hard time with this one. I had a hard time even wrapping my head around what my thoughts should be about this one. And I really wanted to like it. The title was snappy and catchy. Sometimes that’s enough for the book to carry me for quite some time. Also, the author Tanya Egan Gibson, is from the Bay Area, and I think we have a great literary hotbed of talent here and having a blog is one way to really showcase that talent but alas, finding the point of this book was rather difficult for me.

From the start there were a lot of characters. Possibly too many to grasp why we shouldn’t just have the main characters so we can get to them and their development. See, the book is set in upper crust East Coast and this set of people moves from one party to the next and so obviously, at parties you have a lot of people and my goodness it was hard for me to keep all these people straight, they all were described to look and sound the same. They were all catty and had more money than they knew what to do with and cheated on their husbands and wives and were bad parents and well it wasn’t exactly like it made me want to invest more time getting to know them.

Then there were the children, or high school age teenagers. Carley is the one whom her parents hoped to buy her a love of reading. She is overweight and underachieving and merely seems to be incredibly bored with her life. Her parents are appalled that she doesn’t love to read. In fact Carley, when asked, says she has yet to meet a book that she likes. Her parents hope to fix this. Then there is Hunter, Carley’s love. Hunter likes Carley but also loves others. He is a drunk and a pill popper but everyone thinks he is just the greatest thing since sliced bread. He acts way older than his age. 

It’s all a little too ‘Gossip Girl’ for me and I think the problem with this book for me is probably timing. The reality today is that most of us, even those who appear to have a lot of money, are actually struggling with money, and reading books where people have a lot of money is a little insipid and ridiculous. It would be one thing if it made you yearn for a better life but this one made you glad for your own but I am not sure that was the point the author was trying to make.

As always, opinions about books are up to the reader and their are others out there. Here are some others who liked this book more than me: Devourer of Books, The Book Lady's Blog, and Frenetic Reader.

(Thank you to the Publisher and Author for sending me a copy of this book.)


  1. I love an honest review. And that is what you have written. There's enough here for me to remove it from my list. Though the title was very influential to me, it did not make or break the deal. When you compared it to "Gossip Girl," I was certain I would not read it. Thanks for a great review.

  2. Sorry to hear this one was disappointing! I have a really hard time with books that try to focus on too many characters... in fact, I call it Too Many Characters-itis. Lots of folks mean I can't emotionally attach to any of them!

  3. Nice honest review. After your Gossip Girl remark I think this is not the book for me either

  4. I'm sorry to see this one's a stinker.

  5. *rats*
    This was an impulse purchase for me last week, I guess I won't rush to read it.....

  6. ah, 'insipid'. What a great word. I have never seen Gossip Girl but I get the point. :)

  7. I really wanted to read this one (mainly for the title), but many people have said it wasn't for them.

  8. Sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy it. I was looking forward to reading this, but I think I may pass on this book now. Thanks for the honest review.

  9. I enjoyed this one more than you did, but I can see where you're coming from!

  10. GAH! I know books like that.... you try and try. I am listening to an audio right now that I am enjoying but there are parts that are just annoying me because they are too much.

    Cant wait to review it though :)

  11. I had trouble with this book too, at first, but in the end I think I liked it. Carley was an endearing in some ways to me. I didn't always enjoy reading myself so I could in some ways sympathize with her. And Hunter in some ways was kind of dreamy. And I love that the author was from the Bay Area, I'm from the Bay Area too (I didn't realize this similarity until you mentioned it to me, but now that I know, I'm kind of liking the book better).


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