Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review by JD: Then Came the Evening ~ by Brian Hart



A powerful first novel and a bleak tale of a fractured and dysfunctional family trying to build a life together.

About: Bandy Dorner returns from Vietnam and proceeds to wreck both his marriage and his life. A lost soul who doesn’t seem to care that he’s lost, his drunken and violent behavior lands him in prison just as his wife is leaving him.

After spending almost 20 years in prison, Bandy finds out from his ex-wife (Iona) that she was pregnant when she left him and he has a teenage son, who now wants to meet up with is dad. After a brief and tense prison visit, his son returns to the harsh Idaho countryside where Bandy and his family used to live, and starts to rebuild Bandy’s parent’s derelict ranch house. Iona’s life has turned into a bleak existence and she decides to follow her son. Bandy is eventually released from prison, a broken man who is a shadow of his former self; he too returns to his old Idaho home, and the unlikely threesome start to live together and to grope towards rebuilding a family life that they never had. Can they get beyond the personal baggage and difficult histories and create a new life together?

John’s Thoughts:  This is a difficult book for me to review. It’s well structured and well written and is a fine accomplishment for a debut novel, but the trouble is that the book just doesn’t resonate with me. I can’t empathize with the main characters who are pretty much screwed up, awkward, making bad decisions and doing bad things. Iona and her son are at least trying to do some things right, but the Bandy character seems unable to stop himself from messing things up. One of the comments on the book jacket compares the novel to Greek tragedy; I see where the author of that comment is coming from, but the trouble is that I’ve never been able to get through reading a Greek tragedy.

The book will appeal to people who like to read about difficult family dynamics and broken people trying to start over again. While the book wasn’t really my cup of tea, I’d still rate it 3 stars

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (December 22, 2009)

    If you would like more information about the books please link to the preview post of Then Came the Evening.

    Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada and The Book Depository in AUD/Euro.

    This book will be included in the War Through the Generations Challenge and New Author Challenge.

    As always John/JD will be addressing any comments around this book so don’t forget to click the follow up box to get his response.

    Thanks for reading!


    Unknown said...

    I don't care for Greek Tragedies either. This story sounds a bit to bleak for me.

    John D said...

    Hi Shelley,
    It's definitely not one that will appeal to everyone. You have to be of the right disposition or in the right mood for this one.

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