Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Testimony by Anita Shreve

Here is a summary of Testimony from the Hachette website:

At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

My Review:
I admit to being a fan of Anita Shreve, but I have to tell you that I had some reservations about this novel after reading so many mixed reviews.  It seems that this was a book that people either loved or hated, and I can now be added to the side of people that loved this novel.  I am thinking that it is the subject matter of the sex scandal in a private school that caused so many people to be turned off by this novel, but I find this to be a realistic probability and although it wasn't fun to read at times, I found that I couldn't put the book down.

Every chapter of this novel alternates to various characters throughout the book.  I usually enjoy books that are written in this format, so this one is not an exception.  I think my only complaint about this book is that we are given the perspective of maybe too many characters for my taste.  Sometimes at the beginning of a chapter I would have to stop and think about who was narrating and how that specific person was affected by the scandal.

The sex scandal involves a few students of the private high school that come from various walks of life.  One is a nice local boy, another is a sharp young man that has already been accepted to a prestigious college,  while another is not quite as bright as he had to repeat a year.   The older student is able to provide them with alcohol for the evening and for some reason events just spin out of control.

Shreve does a beautiful job of unraveling this disturbing tale that takes us through the events that lead up to the incident.  I love the human element of the emotions and feelings of all who were involved and effected by the mistakes that these kids made.

I don't think I can tell you any more about this story without giving too much away so I am going to leave it at that.  Even though I know many people have not liked this book, I really believe that it would make a great book club discussion.  With themes of deceit, mistakes, and justice, this book could spark quite an interesting discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book came from my personal collection and I read it for my own entertainment.


Ti said...

I have this one but I never got around to it because of all the mixed reviews. Sounds a bit more promising knowing that you liked it.

Anna said...

I'm a big Shreve fan, and although I liked this book, it just didn't "wow" me like some of her others.

bermudaonion said...

I liked this book a lot. I do think the sex scandal turned people off, but it felt real to me, but I like realistic books, so it worked for me.

Marce said...

I really enjoyed this one also, loved the style of hearing the story from the characters but agree maybe one to many.

What is your favourite by her, I want to read more?

I'm starting to realise people rate books on the topic, which is odd, either a hard topic is done well or not, shouldn't be on the topic. I find this with books on adultry........

Jo-Jo said...

Ti: I still enjoyed this book after a good friend told me how much she disliked it! lol

Anna: It could be that because I just finished a book that was just mediocre for me this one seemed exceptional?

Kathy: I agree, I love books that feel realistic and you know can happen, even though it's not a good outcome at times. I mean look at that college coach right now...jeez.

Marce: My favorite by Shreve is definitely The Pilot's Wife, and then probably Sea Glass.

Marce said...

Thanks JoJo, I have Body Surfing I believe but have heard good things about Pilots Wife. Thanks

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I thought this audio was amazing and I was very impressed with how Anita Shreve showed the layers of what can happen.

Anonymous said...

I do love Shreve but this was my least favorite so far. I did think there were too many people narrating. I didn't hate it, just loved her other books more.

Italia said...

This book was an enjoyable read. The story was very intriguing and suspenseful. The thing that really bothered me about this book was how it was written. Shreve chooses to go back and forth between about 20 different characters which gets really annoying because half of the characters are extremely insignificant to the story.