The Late Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow
I finally finished this one. It took me a month to get through this book, which is really unusual for me. Although I liked the very beginning and the very end (the last two chapters) I was disappointed in the rest of the book for several reasons. Initially, I loved Molly's sarcastic, but funny view of things. The way she saw herself, her children, and her funeral in the beginning of the book was very entertaining. From there, though, the book went downhill. While many of the characters in the book were interesting in their own right, a plethora of interesting characters does not a story make. There were a couple things about the story line that I did not like. First was the lack of a plot. The book was more of a chatty gossip fest, filled with little details about the people in Molly's life and their lives, but there was no storyline, no overall plot. A friend of mine mentioned that it started out as a character study for a MFA thesis. In that respect, it was good. As a full fledged story, it fell short.
The biggest disappointment, though, was that the book misrepresented itself. It was purported to be a who-dun-it with a bit of a supernatural twist, in that Molly could follow her former friends and relatives. Yes, she could hear what people thought, but the book spent so little time on this feat, that it was mostly just a device. Even worse, most of the things that she heard, while interesting from a character study view, had little or nothing to do with the purported plot of who killed Molly.
The worst part was that the end of the story was left dangling. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I think all endings should be spelled out. But the ending of this book did not even answer the question that was supposed to be the central question of the plot. The whole book built on the premise that "someone" had killed Molly, only to pull out an accidental death at the end. To make it even worse, the actual person responsible was never revealed, although you might be able to infer the "who" from references Molly made. Both items together made the ending a let down. Especially since I just finished Shanghai Girls, which left a lot of unanswered questions at the end, but answered the essential questions.
That said - the last two chapters really sucked me back in. I liked the chapter where Molly catches up on what happened to a lot of the characters that we met throughout the book. The last chapter, where Annabel's daughter is christened, actually made me cry. Here again, what was interesting was the wrapping up of the characters studies, which had nothing to do with the purported plot line. If the whole book would have been like that, and not the who-dun-it that wasn't, I might have liked it more.