Title: Laura Rider’s Masterpiece
Author: Jane Hamilton
Release Date: April 9, 2009
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
From Barnes and Noble’s website:
Married for 12 years, Laura and Charlie Rider have come to share almost everything: their nursery business, their love for their animals, and, most especially, their zeal for storytelling. And though they no longer share a bed, they are happy enough continuing along in their pleasant, platonic routine. Then Charlie begins an email exchange in earnest with Jenna Faroli, the host of a popular radio show, and, according to Laura, “the single most famous person in the town.” Seeing her opportunity, Laura cannot resist using Charlie’s new connection to promote her writing skills, and together, the couple crafts florid, strangely intimate messages that entice Jenna into their game. “The Project,” as they come to call it, quickly spins out of control. As the lines between Laura’s words and Charlie’s feelings become blurred, Jenna finds herself effected in ways most disturbing, while Laura is transformed into an artist of the highest caliber—in her own mind. The end results are hilarious and poignant, and for Laura Rider, beyond even her wildest imagination.
I’ve never read anything by Jane Hamilton, but I’ve heard good things about her previous novels. I thought the synopsis of Laura Rider’s Masterpiece sounded very unique and I was eager to give it a try.
Laura Rider’s Masterpiece is a very well-written novel. It seems to be an exploration of how authors write and how they create characters. I liked pondering the writing process as well as thinking about how writers got their ideas and drew characters while I was reading this novel. The story was also superbly crafted and very witty. Additionally, I was correct in my assumption that this would be a unique novel; Jane Hamilton has a vivid imagination and it pays off in Laura Rider’s Masterpiece.
However, the problem with this novel was that I simply didn’t enjoy reading it. That is mostly due to the titular character, Laura Rider. She was really unbelievable., not in the sense that her character wasn’t well-drawn, but in the sense that I just couldn’t believe how horrible she was. She was so selfish and narcissistic. She basically treated Jenna as if she was her pet and had no feelings of her own. The lives of Jenna and Laura’s husband Charlie were simply fodder for Laura’s planned novel. She didn’t even stop to think that others might get hurt in her little experiment. My distaste for Laura Rider pretty much nixed any chance I might have had of enjoying Laura Rider’s Masterpiece.
That being said, Laura Rider’s Masterpiece is a well-written and engaging novel. If you can get past Laura Rider’s character, you will probably really like this novel. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to!