“Marriage is very strange. It’s as full of hate as it is love. We can’t possibly speculate at what happens between any couple when all the doors are shut and all the curtains are drawn.”
“Anger is often not cruelty…it is more often love.”
I was excited to get an advanced reader copy of Araminta Hall’s newest book, Imperfect Women, as I really enjoyed her book, Our Kind of Cruelty, last year. Hall’s writing, especially at the beginning of the book, was first rate. There are some jewels scattered throughout the book, too, that I highlighted and certainly won’t forget. She has a gift for prose and for writing things that really hit home for me as a woman and working mother.
So why the 3.5 stars? I so wanted to like this book, but about 25% of the way in it seemed to go on a number of tangents. I think heavy-handed editing could have helped the narrative, as Hall often has her characters go into long diatribes on life and feminism. This is certainly not a bad thing in my book, but all of her characters are deeply introspective people who make questionable choices despite their reflectiveness. I am not confident that most people operate with that level and depth of self-awareness on a daily basis, and that’s probably what struck me as the most problematic part of the book.
The book is about three female friends who met in college and are now coming of age (despite being of middle age like myself). The friends find themselves tethered to one another when one of them disappears and then is found dead under what is believed to be suspicious circumstances. As the friends investigate what happened, betrayals and unfaithfulness are revealed, making the reader wonder how these three women ever stayed together and trusted one another in the first place.
I’ve read other reviews of this book now that I’m done with it, and some people have complained that everyone in the book is “imperfect” (hence the title) and irredeemably flawed. Every person out there is flawed, so I don’t see this as a big problem. What is a problem, in my opinion, is how self-absorbed all the characters are despite being “friends.” They seem to be so flawed that they lack a moral compass needed to have friends – maybe that’s Hall’s point, that all of these characters were drawn together because they were missing what makes them human. I am not sure.
Nevertheless, I will definitely read Araminta Hall’s next book because I enjoy her writing style so much. The plot is where the book fell short for me.
Thank you to Araminta Hall, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of the book!